20 Nov 3 Tips for a Diabetic-Friendly Holiday Season
Did you know about 1 out of 10 people in the United States are diabetic? 1 out of 4 people don’t know they have it and 1 out of 3 are prediabetic.1 Even if you are not a diabetic, it’s likely you will be sitting down to a Thanksgiving feast or holiday meal with someone who is or could be.
Though the holidays can be a license to eat rich foods, for a diabetic there can be potentially deadly consequences to overindulging. Dangerous health complications like blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke or loss of toes, feet or legs are the serious reality for far too many diabetics.
By maintaining a healthy body weight through eating a nutrient dense diet and being physically active, many prediabetics can avoid the disease and those with diabetes can live a long, full life.
To support the diabetics in our lives and our world, here are 3 Top Tips for having a Diabetic-Friendly Holiday Season:
1) Ditch the Sugar
Diabetic-friendly dishes can be just as delicious as their calorie-laden counterpart. Try new recipes that either incorporate a sugar substitute (like Splenda or stevia) or reduce the amount sugar. If you want to be a little daring, try using fruit purees (like pineapple) and substituting meringue for marshmallows or whipped cream like in this sweet potato casserole recipe.
2) Get Moving
Fight the urge to take a nap from the tryptophan-laden roasted poultry and instead lace up some shoes, and hit the sidewalk. Take a post-meal walk or play Turkey Tag. Taking a 15 minute post-meal walk within 30 minutes after each meal was effective in significantly normalizing blood sugar levels for up to 3 hours after eating and it was better than a prolonged 45 minute walk once a day.2 Or, get the kids (of all ages) involved and play Turkey Tag, the kinder, gentler cousin of touch football. See: “How to Play Turkey Tag”.
3) Try Some Non-Food-Focused Fun
Redirect attention from food to connection, conversation, and crafts.
Connection: Games, games, and more games. The big game on TV could be the standard in your house on Thanksgiving but if you want to create even more connection, try playing a game instead of watching one. It can be classic board game or a Thanksgiving-themed one like a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt where teams go and take pictures of what they are grateful for in different categories, like what are you grateful for in nature, what are you grateful that makes you laugh, what are you grateful for that makes me feel strong, etc. Then, come together to share your photos and discuss the reasons behind your choices.
Conversation: Afraid of what people may say? An easy way to guide a conversation is to ask questions that are unique and reflective like: What would a perfect day look like to you? What was your favorite childhood book and why? Who is one person you consider a hero and why?
Crafts: Too many cooks in the kitchen? Keep your hands busy and your mouth empty through crafting. Homemade place settings, a DIY centerpiece or maybe something ingenious from Pinterest can harness your creativity and give you a sense of satisfaction.
Impact on Your Mental Health
Besides being more susceptible to serious physical complications, diabetics are twice as likely to suffer from depression.3 By incorporating the 3 Top Tips you may not only reduce the urge to overindulge but also decrease the likelihood of experiencing the symptoms of depression.
Sugar consumption has been linked to depression as excess sugar can inhibit the production of endorphins, the feel-good hormone which produces a natural high.4 So when you reduce your sugar intake, or even avoid it all together, you are helping your brain produce the chemicals it needs for having positive emotions like happiness and love.
Also, thirty minutes of walking a day can reduce symptoms of depression by 30%.5 So taking that post-feast stroll will not only regulate your blood sugar but also combat the blues.
Finally, crafting is not just fun but has its physiological and psychological benefits. Crafting has been known to cause a release of dopamine, a natural anti-depressant.6 In one study of 3,545 knitters, 81% of them noted that their mood improved from slightly to significantly happier. And playing games, reading books and computer activities have been shown to reduce the occurrence of mild cognitive impairment by 30-50%.7 These actives are all non-medicinal ways to stimulate the reward center of the brain as well as help control blood sugar levels.
AbleTo helps people with chronic medical conditions like diabetes relieve the stress, anxiety and depression that can come with complex life situations. Whether it’s the holidays or daily life, we teach people practical, effective skills that have them feel better and live better.
AbleTo can help.
There is a lot you can do yourself, but sometimes you just need personal support. Let our behavior coaches and therapists give you one-on-one tailored help.
Call us at 855.773.2354, Monday-Friday 10am-8pm EST or Saturday 10am-6pm EST. Or request a call and we'll call when it is convenient for you.