Holidays with the Diabetic in Mind

Author – Carolyn Washburn

Holidays with the Diabetic in Mind

Take Control of Your Diabetes

Those with diabetes can enjoy holiday eating and maintain a strong and healthy lifestyle by understanding and taking control of diet and exercise.

Diabetes is a complex disease that requires daily self-management, including making healthy food choices, staying physically active, monitoring blood sugars and taking medications as prescribed by the doctor. More than 8 percent of the American population have diabetes.

Our bodies need daily nutrients. We consume carbohydrates for energy, proteins for strength and fats for nerves and body functions. How much we consume of each is critical to understand. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose during digestion and raise blood glucose.

As you take control of your diet, you will need to understand portion size, the ingredients in products and to watch for added ingredients. Fiber is also an important component for diabetics. Fiber can help control blood sugar levels by slowing sugar absorption. Fiber makes you feel “fuller” and helps move foods through the digestive tract. With bright colors and flavorful textures, vegetables are an excellent way to add fiber, vitamins and minerals to your daily plan. Fill your plate half full of vegetables at meal time. Aim for 30 grams of fiber every day.

Finding out that you have diabetes can be discouraging and frustrating. It is a serious disease with many possible complications. However, research has shown that people with diabetes can live long and healthy lives. The way to do this is by managing glucose levels with diet, exercise and proper medications.

Proper eating habits are are extremely important for those with diabetes. It is critical to find ways to eat foods with lower sugars, salts and fats. We all know how good sugar, salt and fats taste. These three items greatly flavor most of our foods. When we minimize these three substances, we must make modifications, finding new ways to flavor foods. Learning to use herbs, spices, sugar substitutes, low fat and low-sodium products will make a difference to blood sugar levels.

During this holiday season, take the opportunity to eat high fiber foods, lower intake of fats, sugars and salts and enjoy smaller portion sizes of some old favorite foods. Try this salad as  a tart and tangy option.

No Sugar Added Sweet Fruit Salad

3 or 4 large apples, diced with peels left on

4 or 5 bananas, sliced

Other fruits as desired: peaches, pears and grapes work well

1 regular can crushed pineapple

1 tub of Crystal Light lemonade

1 package of gelatin-brand sugar-free vanilla pudding

Mix fruits in a large mixing bowl. Mix lemonade powder and gelatin together and blend over fruit. Chill and serve.


carolyn-washburnCarolyn Washburn is a family and consumer sciences agent for Utah State University Extension. Her responsibilities include financial management education, food safety and nutrition, healthy family relations, emergency preparedness and working with youth. Her goal is to help individuals and families become self-sustaining and resilient by being financially prepared and healthy for any emergency. She serves on the National Disaster Education Network and has just completed the new food storage manual for USDA. Her most cherished award is America’s Promise, awarded by Colin Powell.

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