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Nine diabetes management tips for the Christmas week
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Nine diabetes management tips for the Christmas week

Experts suggest that exercise is an integral part of diabetes management and should not be skipped even during the festival weeks
People with diabetes should try to avoid eating sweets with sugar and instead rely on fruits.
For people with type 2 diabetes, blood glucose management during festival season is all about following a policy of smart eating.

Diabetes management during Christmas need not dampen your festive cheer this year. Smart dietary and lifestyle choices during the festival season, according to experts, could be helpful in relaxing some of the food restrictions and having a good time. Diabetologists also endorse this strategy but point out that it should always be done in a self-controlled manner so as to avert any unfortunate consequences, especially in people diagnosed with chronic diabetes.

“Diwali or Christmas, all our festivals are social occasions to gather and celebrate with our dear ones. It is understandable that there will be a tendency to indulge a bit. So there is a need to educate people and make them aware of doing it in a healthy manner without affecting their diabetes status after the festival season,” says Dr Banshi Saboo, diabetologist, chairman (elect), South Asia Chapter, International Diabetes Federation.

Diabetes management during Christmas week

Dr Saboo also points out that one way to ensure proper blood sugar control during the festival season would be to substitute refined carbohydrates used for making goodies like cakes and cookies with complex carbohydrates rich in fiber and nutrients.

“Even during Christmas, I always make it a point to consume less rice. But I tend to relax my restrictions a bit when it comes to Christmas cakes and cookies. I don’t bake at home and usually buy my cake from outside. But I make it a point to not eat more than two slices,” says Mary Raju, a 67-year-old home maker from Ernakulam diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. She also points out that she makes it a point to eat more vegetable based dishes along with her Christmas feast to ensure adequate fiber intake to slow down her sugar spikes.

Dr Saboo points out that people with diabetes should try to avoid eating sweets with sugar and instead rely on fruits (both fresh and dried) along with nuts to satiate their sugar cravings.

“Exercise is also crucial when it comes to diabetes management. So always try to incorporate a bit of physical activity into your holiday get-togethers. It would not only be fun but will also help to burn those extra calories from your holiday meals and keep your blood glucose under control,” Dr Saboo adds.

Dr Namratha Upadhya, specialist, Paediatric Endocrinology, Aster  RV Hospital Bangalore points out that for people with type 2 diabetes, blood glucose management during festival season is all about following a policy of smart eating.

“If there is a festival lunch or feast coming up then it is always better to plan your other meals of the day accordingly. Like have a light breakfast and also maybe do a bit more daily physical activity or exercise to balance the additional calorie intake,” Dr Upadhya says.

Dr Urman Dhruv, physician and director, Department of Internal Medicine and Diabetes, HCG Hospitals, Ahmedabad points out that it is always wise for people with diabetes to start their meal with some ample servings of non calorie rich food like salads to avert excess intake of carb dense food items.

Dr Upadhya also points out that as far as people with Type 1 diabetes on insulin are concerned they should focus on ensuring that they adjust their insulin dose according to their food intake.

“It is okay if they end up eating a bit more than usual but they have to adjust their insulin dose accordingly. It is always advisable to stick to eating in moderation,” she adds. Children tend to be more physically active during the holiday season so extra caution should be taken for those kids on insulin to avert any sudden dip in blood glucose levels.

Tips to manage your  blood glucose levels during the Christmas week

  1. A slice or two is fine: Dr Saboo points out that having  a slice of Christmas cake or a piece of cookie will not adversely affect your diabetes management plan during Christmas week. But it should never be eaten in excess and should be eaten only if the blood glucose levels are already under control. Though it is fine to indulge a bit, it should be done in strict moderation with proper portion control.
  2. Use diabetes friendly ingredients: Apart from white sugar, people with diabetes should always make it a point to ensure that they use diabetes friendly variants of flour and dough to make Christmas goodies. “Maida should be avoided as it is as bad as sugar when it comes to diabetes. So, it is always better to opt for whole grain based flour for cakes and cookies,” Dr Saboo adds.
  3. Munch on nuts and fruits: Instead of snacking on sweets and savouries, munch on a handful of dry nuts like (walnuts and badam) and fruits to satiate your sugar cravings during the holidays. A bowl of diabetes-friendly fruits ( apple, guava, papaya, underripe banana etc ) could be the perfect mid day snack for people with diabetes.
  4. Eat more fiber rich food: Make it a point to increase your fiber intake during the holiday week by adding more whole grain based flours and green leafy vegetables to your diet. It will also compensate for the excess sugar intake and also slow down sugar spikes
  5. Drink with caution: Alcohol intake should be strictly restricted and people with diabetes should make it a point to restrict themselves to one or two drinks. They should also consult their doctor before drinking any alcoholic beverage if they have been specifically asked to keep away from alcohol.
  6. Burn those excess calories: Dr Saboo says that exercise is an integral part of diabetes management and should not be skipped even during the festival weeks. He also points out that one should ensure to burn excess calories gained during the holiday week
  7. Practise smart eating: Dr Upadhyay says that diabetes management during holidays is also about planning and smart eating. If you have a heavy feast coming up then try to reduce your food intake prior to that to balance your calorie intake. Dr Dhruv recommends to start your festival meal with ample servings of diabetes friendly food like green salad to ensure that you don’t end up over indulging on calorie rich food.
  8. Participate in activity based celebrations: Try to include a bit of physical activity in your holiday itinerary. A trip to the beach or a treasure hunt or activity based game with your family would be healthier options to have fun rather than going to the mall for a movie and food court dinner. Dr Saboo also says that organizing some gathering and group activities in an open place like a park would help to burn excess calories
  9. Monitor your blood glucose level: Dr Saboo recommends continuous glucose monitoring especially for people with a history of fluctuating blood glucose levels. He also points out that people should not forget to take their diabetes medication during the holiday week. Dr Upadhya adds that people with type 1 diabetes should try to adjust their insulin dose according to their carb intake as per the instructions of their doctor or diabetes educator.

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