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Holiday Eating Tips for People With Diabetes

Plan ahead and make exercise a part of your tradition, expert advises

FRIDAY, Nov. 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- People with diabetes face a number of challenges over the holidays, but careful planning can help keep you healthy, an expert says.

"With the holidays coming, take some time to think about how you'll deal with the events, the family you'll be visiting and all of the to-dos," Joan Bardsley, president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, said in an association news release. "By planning ahead. you can enjoy the fun and still be healthy."

One idea is to make a healthy eating contract with yourself. Before a big meal, think carefully about how you will eat that day and write down some goals. Sign and date the contract and post it on your refrigerator.

Then plan your meal plate. Half of it should include vegetables, like carrots, green beans or broccoli. A quarter should have starches (carbohydrates), like sweet potatoes, mashed or baked potatoes, rice pilaf or quinoa. The other quarter is for lean meat, like turkey or chicken. Try to avoid dark meat and remove any skin from your meat. If gravy is a must, use just a little, Bardsley advised.

She also recommended limiting or avoiding alcohol. Check with your doctor to find out if alcohol will interfere with any of your medications. If it's safe for you to drink, do so in moderation. Limit yourself to a glass of wine per party, or have a wine spritzer. Avoid mixed drinks, which have more carbohydrates. Be sure to eat when drinking alcohol in order to prevent low blood sugar.

Be sure to be physically active over the holidays. If you can't maintain your normal exercise routine, get the family out for walks, fun runs or games of flag football or tag, Bardsley suggested.

If you're traveling, bring extra medications with you. For example, if you plan to be gone for a week, pack two weeks' worth of diabetes medications and supplies in case of travel delays or other problems. Carry a prescription from your doctor for insulin or oral medication in case of an emergency.

When traveling by air, keep your medications and supplies with you at all times, Bardsley said.

More information

The American Diabetes Association offers holiday meal planning tips.

SOURCE: American Association of Diabetes Educators, news release, Nov. 14, 2014
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