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Tips for a Merry Christmas, even for Diabetes

Christmas, without doubt, is one of the seasons most awaited by people all over the world.  Like any other family, the clan has been looking forward to celebrating christmas every year, as the kids know it means not just presents but all the food they like spread out on the dinner table.

But this year, Mommy Ana has some qualms on how to make this Christmas a merry one for her family. Her husband has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes early this year. With her husband’s health to consider, Ana is at a loss on how to prepare holiday dishes that her husband can partake of without feeling guilty or sacrificing the enjoyment of the whole family.

Christmas and the holidays in general can be hard for people with diabetes or for families dealing with diabetes. There are a lot of things to consider for the diabetic patient aside from food. Even seemingly simple tasks like finding gifts for the diabetic family member or preparing holiday activities for the whole family, may present a problem.

How then can families dealing with diabetes enjoy the season without a worry on their minds? There are three simple things to remember: Communicate, Plan and Enjoy!

Holiday eating blues

Holiday eating presents a challenge not just for diabetics, but their families and caregivers as well. Indeed, how does one prepare a Christmas-worthy feast for all without necessarily alienating the diabetic family member?

First, communicate with the diabetic family member. Ask him or her what would fit into his or her meal plan, or talk to a doctor, dietitian or diabetes educator yourself.

Tell the whole family about the situation so that everybody would understand why you changed the family’s well-loved, traditional Christmas feast. Letting the children know for example that you will forego the traditional ham with its sweet sauce and instead go for the healthier roasted chicken could prepare them for the change.

Next, plan the Christmas dinner menu preferably at least two weeks before. Let the whole family know about what you will be serving so that the diabetic family members can have time to prepare and customize their meal plans. Involving the kids in preparing the healthier meal alternative is also a good way for them to learn about diabetes and healthy eating.

And finally, enjoy the season with your family and friends. For diabetics, modera-tion is always the key. Don’t feel guilty usihg th xcuse that it’s Christmas and you deserve a break.  So treat yourself with whatever you like to eat on the dinner table, just be sure not to overeat!

Party tips

What’s Christmas without a party or a family gathering? The holiday season is always a special time to spend with family and friends. For families dealing with diabetes, going to parties or throwing a party should not be a problem. Again, all you have to do is to communicate, plan and enjoy.

If the party will be held at your house, you can call the shots when it comes to the menu. Again talk to your family members and ask them what they would want to eat for the party. That way, you can plan for alternative and healthier ways of preparing the dishes.

Prepare meals that have less carbs and sugar but are full of flavor. A lot of diabetic cookbooks can help you with this. Try using alternate ingredients or a whole new dish that could brighten up the party and will be enjoyed by all, diabetic or not. If the party will be at a relative’s house, call a few days in advance and ask what’s on the party menu. It can help you decide what items on the menu would fit into your meal plan. If a friend is throwing the party, it would be wise to let the host know of your special condition. Your friend will be happy you tipped him/her off earlier so adjustments could be made, even if it only means providing su-gar-free substitute for the after-dinner coffee.

Enjoying Christmas

For people with diabetes, a good way to enjoy the season is by not getting sick. Keep your diabetes in control to be able to avoid going to the hospital and enjoy the endless parties and family gatherings. Munching on all the food during the holidays should also mean doing extra physical activity to burn all those calories away. Don’t let the cold weather hamper your exercise routine. Do some exercises in the morning to keep your blood flowing. Try walking around your neighborhood at night while enjoying the lights and Christmas displays of your neighborhood.

Again, all those high-carb and high-calorie food have an impact on your blood sugar. Therefore, don’t forget to check your blood sugars. This season is one of those times when you may need to monitor your blood sugar level more closely.

Keep close contact with your physician on how to control your diabetes or adjust your insulin or medication doses. Your nutritionist or diabetes educator can also help you create a meal plan for the holidays.

Christmas is a time to enjoy ourselves, and diabetes should definitely not be a hindrance to merrymaking this season. So go ahead – do get caught up with the celebration, enjoy the music and the parties. More importantly, Christmas isn’t just about the food. Enjoy Christmas for what it truly means: being with your family and sharing your blessings with all your loved ones.

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