If you have diabetes, managing your HbA1C levels is essential. During the festive season it can be a bigger challenge to stick to your meal plan and keep your blood sugar levels steady.
“It can be difficult to maintain a healthy meal plan when holiday get-togethers are often centered around foods we wouldn’t always consider eating,” says Purvi Varma, a registered dietitian for Abbott. “The good news is that although you should be mindful of what you eat, the right planning can help you make healthier choices while still enjoying this time with family and friends.”
Here are some simple planning strategies and nutrition swaps to help you enjoy the festivities and yet stay on track.
- Plan Ahead
Before you get to any event, have a plan in place for what you will eat. For example, if you know that there will only be snacks, plan to select those that are lower in calories and won’t spike your blood sugar, such as vegetables and lean proteins. Be cautious of dips or sauces that can add hidden calories, salt or sugar. You can also plan ahead by looking at online restaurant menus to plan your meal ahead of time. If the event is at a house, ask the host what he or she is planning to serve, and offer to bring your own healthy dish that complements the meal.
- Don’t Skip Meals
Skipping a meal can negatively impact your blood glucose level, says Varma . If the holiday schedule has you busy, keep diabetes friendly options close like Ensure Diabetes Care. Made by Abbott, Ensure Diabetes Care has blends of carbohydrates that are slowly digested and absorbed to help minimize blood sugar spikes. With fewer than 230 calories per serve it’s a smart and portion controlled choice.
- Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated and drinking water is important for our overall health and well-being, but recent research shows it may also help with the calories we consume. Using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data, researchers found that drinking more water is associated with eating fewer calories, as well as less sugar, salt and cholesterol. While more controlled research on this topic should be done to confirm this finding, choosing water may be helpful to limit other sugar-sweetened drinks.
- Be Smart About Carbs
Foods rich in carbohydrates can provide a lot of good nutrients. But compared to fats and protein, carbs have the most adverse effect on blood sugar levels. This is why it’s important to choose your carbs wisely, and go with low glycemic foods – carbohydrates that are slowly digested and don’t impact your blood sugar levels. In contrast, foods with a high glycemic index and glycemic load are digested rapidly and cause spikes in blood sugars. Limit refined and processed carbohydrates and choose fiber-rich whole foods such as apples, carrots, beans and oats.
- Pay Attention to Portions
It’s not just what you eat, it’s how much you eat . Some simple guidelines for estimated portions:
• One cup = a fist
• 100g = palm of your hand
- Lighten Up
Most traditional holiday recipes can be made healthier with simple substitutions.
- Slow Down
Did you know that it takes 20 minutes for your brain to catch up with your stomach and let you know that you are “full”? Research has shown that when meals are consumed slowly, people eat significantly fewer calories and consume more water. To help slow down your eating – try to chew slowly, place your utensil down or take a sip of water in between bites.
- You Can Have Dessert, but…
If dessert is important, then plan ahead for it. Eat fewer carbs throughout the day, so you can enjoy a mithai. Remember to be mindful of portion sizes and skip the extra helpings.
Although most holiday traditions revolve around meal time, consider adding a physical activity into it. Perhaps go for a family walk after your meal.
- Get Back on Track
Lastly, if a food setback happens, don’t give up. “A lot of us can tend to overindulge despite our best efforts,” says Varma . “Instead of feeling guilt about it, acknowledge your feelings and focus on getting back on track at your next meal”. With the above tips, it is possible to enjoy the holidays and stay on track with your health. Just make a plan… and be merry!
News credit : ndtv