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Enjoying holiday festivities while staying healthy

(Shreveport,LA)– The holiday season is beginning and one thing many people are looking forward to – the food! You might be planning to eat as much food as your stretchy pants will allow, but people with diabetes have to approach their holiday meal plans differently.

Dr. Kamal Bhusal, Clinical Assistant Professor of Endocrinology at LSU Health Shreveport who is American Board Certified in Internal Medicine, shared tips for those who need to manage their diabetes during the holidays.

For people with diabetes who need to keep their keep blood sugar levels steady, keep eye on carbohydrate content of foods. If you have Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (DM) and take oral medicine, avoid eating too many carbohydrates in each meals. If you have Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (DM) and take insulin with meals, adjust insulin based on the carbohydrates you are planning to eat.

At the holidays, there are many food options to choose from. What are the best foods to eat if you have diabetes? Your best bet is to avoid eating too many carbohydrate-rich foods. If you have to eat carbohydrates, choose better carbohydrates. Better carbohydrates are food with low glycemic index. Low glycemic index foods causes less glucose excursion after food. Examples are non-starchy vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, celery, cucumber, lettuce, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, chickpeas, carrots, and mustard green. You can eat protein-rich food like chicken, bacon and other meats, and eggs. Remember to bake, but do not fry with corn flour, which is a carbohydrate.

Daily product cheese and yogurt are better than milk and ice cream. Protein rich plant food like peanuts, beans, lentils, and chickpeas are better that starches grains like rice, spaghetti, sweet potatoes, and potatoes. Whole wheat bread is better than white bread but, but breads are not recommended to eat if you have diabetes in general. Enjoy the turkey (white meat is better than dark meat) but try to stay away from pies, cake, and cookies and choose a healthier dessert option that is low fat. Be careful when it comes to fruit as well and how it is prepared, as most fruits contain sugar.

Stick to water and do not drink any sugary drinks, including regular sodas and iced tea. One to two drinks daily with artificial sweetener is acceptable.

Children with diabetes are different from adults, but should still be smart with their Thanksgiving meal plan. Children need to grow, so it is not necessary to restrict carbohydrates, but they need to adjust insulin dose based on how much they are going to eat. If someone is already in overweight categories, avoid eating too many carbohydrates.

Finally, yet importantly, do not wait until the New Year to start healthier habits. Find an exercise of your liking to do at least 30 to 45 minutes three to five times a week, and start watching carbohydrates in your diet. Healthy habits that are good for everyone to take part in – quit smoking and quit drinking. Drinking alcohol is never good for someone with diabetes as it has many calories; some have a lot of sugar; and it can cause negative side effects relating to blood sugar levels.

November is American Diabetes Month. This month is an important time to help spread awareness about diabetes and the impact it has on millions of people so that diabetes management can be better understood. The Centers for Disease Control reports that 30.3 million people have diabetes – that is 9.4 percent of the U.S. population. 7.2 million of people with diabetes are undiagnosed, meaning they don’t even know that they have it.

Stay supportive of your friends and family who have diabetes this holiday season, and keep their needs in mind when planning the dinner menu. Thanksgiving can still be a time of celebration and fellowship without food being the focus of the day.

Here are some tips to feed your body a diet that is rich in fiber and antioxidants, and control the average weight-gain of the season:

• Have at least one serving of fruit and/or vegetables at Every. Single. Meal.

• When you start filling your plate, START WITH THE SALAD, FRUIT AND VEGETABLES, and fill HALF of your plate with plants, without a creamy dressing. This will automatically decrease the size of your meat or entrée, decreasing calories and probably fat. Make the sides the main attraction whether at a meal or cocktail party.

• Opt for larger portions of side-dishes that are roasted or served plain, and smaller portions of sides that have creamy or cheesy sauce.

• Snack only on whole, raw fruits or vegetables between meals.

• Drink plenty of water.

• Too tempted by the buffet spread? Try to stay away from it all together if you can and find healthier foods that aren’t located right next to the pumpkin pie. And, if you can eat a healthy meal/snack before going to a party or get-together, this will help you not be as tempted by any not-so-healthy food or hor-d’oeuvres offerings served.

At the holidays and even after they’re over, strive to eat fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), whole grains, nuts and seeds that are pretty close to how they are found in nature.

So the take-home message is this: if you really want to give yourself and others a gift that will last far beyond the holidays – start doing something that’s been shown to reverse disease and prevent future disease: eat and serve more plants! Once again, your mother was right – eat your veggies.

To learn more about American Diabetes Month, visit The American Diabetes Association offers many helpful tips for those with and without diabetes, and has recipes and meal planning suggestions, including plans for special holiday meals.

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