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MedWatch: Diabetes and the Holidays

The holiday season — a time to eat, drink and be merry.

But that can be a little harder for those suffering from diabetes.

“You have to want to feel good, I guess, and I have had those holidays when I’ve overindulged in the food and have felt horrible for more than a day,” says Cindy Webb.

Cindy Webb was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 35 years ago.

She has learned to manage it the best she can.

“I have a pump and a sensor so I can go a little more than normal to enjoy the holidays, because I have the option of giving myself a little bit more insulin,” explains Cindy.

She’s gotten plenty of advice from diabetes education at Munson Medical Center — a place that helps people deal with their disease, especially during this time of year.

“Everybody’s a little different, but diabetes and the holidays generally bring a lot of stress, so often we will see more blood sugars on what we call the rollercoaster,” says Connie Metcalf.

Dietician and diabetes educator Connie Metcalf says preparation is key.

“One key piece is always taking a meter with you, always having the ability to check your meter when you feel different, whenever you feel funny, maybe before a meal if you’re taking meal-time insulin, it really help people feel confident in knowing where their blood sugars are,” explains Connie.

Stress and schedules are only part of the problem. Much of it boils down to food, especially at those holiday parties.

“I could do without the roll, and I’m not nuts about the mashed potatoes, but I absolutely love that green bean casserole. If you’ve got them all out there it’s awfully hard not to end up over eating, but if you could at least trim them back a little bit,” says Laura McCain.

Dietician chef Laura McCain says pick the items you just can’t live without and work around them.

“You want your plate to be half vegetables that are deep, rich colored vegetables, a quarter protein, a quarter starch,” says Laura.

A rule for everyone, not just diabetics.

“It’s so American to focus on quantity we forget, well I don’t really need this much food, so let’s make some of our dishes from scratch, very beautifully high quality ingredients and really savor the time you’re spending with friends and family,” explains Laura.

“Some people choose to enjoy those traditions, because it’s a special time of the year, but maybe that’s where portion control or that one plate idea can come into play,” says Connie.

From small modifications to menus to finding that balance, everyone can enjoy the holidays in a healthful way.

“It’s not all about the food, just having the family around and the support, sometimes you really don’t even think about the diabetic part, its’ easy if everybody pitches in and does what they need to do, and healthy eating is good for everybody,” says Cindy.