12 Habits to be Aware of this Holiday Season

December 3, 2015By 0 Comments

images888*Article written for Diabetes Sisters

It’s that time of year again…the ever popular article on “how to stick to your diet over the holidays”, or “how to keep your blood sugars in check through the holidays”.  Well, I want to put a spin on it for you so as not to have your eyes glass over…

First, living with diabetes, I think we can admit that we all get lazy, and an annual reminder that when the calendar hits December, it’s not an excuse to ignore our diabetes.  I’m not here to tell you all about what NOT to eat, but instead I want to help you not feel deprived of the treats and traditions that warm your heart and please your palate.  I always tell my clients that before you go removing any habits that have a negative effect on your diabetes or weight control, focus on adding in some positive changes.  If you make a pact with yourself to follow through on your top three positive goals, you will be more likely to almost unknowingly remove negative influences on your health.

Here is my list of the top 12 things you can do to just stay neutral this holiday season (I’m not talking about some unrealistic diet of no eggnog or Christmas cookies here…)

  1.  Keep a food journal along with the advent calendar: Every day when you account for one more day toward Christmas, Hanukkah or any other holiday celebration, do yourself a favor and take a new page in a designated notebook to start keeping track of everything you eat that day…and I mean those two handfuls of red and green M&M’s you stuffed in your mouth as you walked through your friends living room.  You won’t even believe how fast you start to recognize all the unnecessary little added sugars and fats you take in just by unconscious eating.  Do yourself a favor, and be honest with yourself, it will pay off!
  2. Keep up with your water intake: The scorching hot days of summer may be long gone, but that doesn’t mean that your body’s need for hydration has disappeared.  Now more than ever, during this skin drying season, and a time of frequent salt infused foods, our bodies need more water than ever!  Keep that water bottle just as close to as you did in August.  Attempt to drink 8 oz of water in between every cup of coffee or glass of wine to assure you are keeping up with the beverages that dehydrate us the most.  Also, it will help you feel fuller and more energized.  The only downside of course is the frequent bathroom breaks….but that’s a good excuse to make sure your Santa hat isn’t on crooked.
  3. Appetizers:  At some parties, appetizers are often more of the main focus then the meal itself.  Keep tabs on what you’re consuming and aim for more of the protein based appies such as cheese and maybe try some turkey pepperoni instead of the regular kind.  Stick with the veggies and dip like celery and cucumbers, and avoid going back to the chip bowl more than a few times.  If there are some pigs in a blanket calling your name, have a couple, take a bolus, and call it a day!  But, if you really feel like treating yourself and grazing all day, make sure to put on a temp basal to cover the lingering effect of all those slowly consumed carbs.
  4. Hidden Ingredients: I am always reminded to check with the host to see if there might be any hidden sugars in the delicious homemade feast in front of me.  Often times, some people like to add a little sugar to a salad dressing or to grilled veggies to help them brown.  Other times that delicious side dish you’re biting into may also have been mixed with a maple syrup or some other condiment that may need to be accounted for.  So don’t be shy, ask the host if there are any special ingredients so that you can make sure to take insulin for it.
  5. If you like Eggnog: I am always amazed at how many people are not aware of the calories and sugar in so many enjoyable alcoholic beverages.  The average Eggnog with alcohol packs over 300 calories and 35 grams of carb! Google a list of some lower calorie and lower carb mixers to think about using with your beverage of choice (*Also, agave nectar is a simple lower glycemic index syrup that can be used in Margarita’s for a reduced sugar).
  6. Extra Supplies: You don’t want to get caught at a fun party with 15 units left in your reservoir, a site that’s about to fall off, and 2 test strips left in your meter case.  Think ahead, and make sure you are prepared to have fun!!! Diabetes should NOT hold you back this holiday or any day!
  7. Soups: Remember, many soups can have high amounts of carbohydrates in them. If the soup contains potatoes, corn, or a rich vegetable like butternut squash, these things need to be accounted for. The average cup of butternut squash soup contains about 30 grams of carbs. (It also has fiber, which will help diminish the spike in glucose, so that’s a plus.) While a cup of creamy tomato bisque will run you about 25 grams (don’t forget the crouton garnish on top)!
  8. Root Vegetables: Potatoes and parsnips—oh my! (Turnips and carrots are root vegetables as well, but aren’t nearly as high in carbs as their potato cousins.) Delicious garlic mashed potatoes or puréed parsnips are a staple on restaurant menus during the fall and winter. There are about 35 grams of carbohydrates in 1 cup of homemade mashed potatoes and about 27 grams of carbs in a serving of parsnips. The obvious recommendation would be to choose a lower-glycemic veggie, like asparagus, broccoli rabe, or a tomato and mozzarella salad or at least limit your portions of the heavier veggies.
  9. Get your morning buzz without the added sugar: Lattes in peppermint, cinnamon, pumpkin, crème Brule and the like…might take the chill out but it will surely add on the carbs!  Ask for a sugar free syrup option, some coffee places may have it in a seasonal flavor.  If you do choose to treat yourself with the flavored latte, just make sure you find out how many carbs are in the syrup (and how many pumps they use) and take your insulin/medication accordingly.
  10. Don’t over-treat lows with leftovers:  We all know that exciting feeling; it’s 3am, your sweaty and in a daze…but you remember that your grandmother’s famous Italian cookies are just sitting on the counter calling your name.  First, remember that treating a low with something high in fat is not ideal, and that you should go with a fast simple sugar like juice first.  If you do decide a cookie would be good to sustain you through the morning, note the operative word “a” cookie.  Waking up with a headache from a high blood sugar that spiked due to over-treating is just not fun.
  11. Decide ahead of the holiday’s how much leeway to give yourself:  What are your goals?  Do you want to aim to not gain weight during the holidays, or keep your A1C where it was over the summer?  Decide what is most important to you and decide how you want to allow yourself to indulge in the holiday treats without sacrificing your personal goals.  Decide if going out to dinner 2x per week or 4x a week is a good idea or not.  Also, deciding whether keeping comfort foods at your disposal in the fridge all winter long is a smart move.
  12. Eat that Pecan Pie: I always tell my clients; do NOT deprive yourself, it will only make you over eat later on.  If you know you really love and want to enjoy the sweet treats during the holidays just remember; moderation, portions and planning ahead with your insulin!

YOU CAN DO THIS!  And don’t worry…there is no Elf watching you J


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