From ham and turkey with all the trimmings to sweet potatoes and mincemeat pie, the holidays are the time when families gather to share good food and good company. But for those who overindulge, the holidays can lead to weight gain or to health problems for people who suffer from a chronic illness such as diabetes.
"It is important that people have an eating plan before going to a holiday party or a restaurant," says Barbara Caleen Hansen, Ph.D., professor of physiology and director of the Obesity and Diabetes Research Center at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. "Don't deprive yourself of fun. You can enjoy the food, but remember to not let it interfere with your overall health."
For those with chronic health problems, sensible eating is even more important, says Dr. Hansen, author of The Commonsense Guide to Weight Loss for People with Diabetes. "The holiday season can be an anxiety-provoking time for anyone on a diet, especially a strict diet due to health problems," says Dr. Hansen.
Although her book was written for individuals with diabetes, her common sense tips can be used by anyone who wants to keep their waistline from expanding over the holidays:
Dr. Hansen reminds people with diabetes to keep their glucose levels under control. For example, instead of having one egg for breakfast, try two egg whites or ¼ cup of egg substitutes. Try substituting herbs and spices for salt and using evaporated skim milk instead of heavy cream.
The holidays are a time to enjoy, and a balanced diet can be maintained if thought and organization are a part of the plan. Dr. Hansen says that the holidays are a good time to refrain from overeating and to try not to gain weight. However, it is not a good season to try a new weight loss plan. She recommends postponing serious efforts to lose weight until after the holidays.
Note: A woman with diabetes who has successfully incorporated healthy eating and exercise into her everyday life is available for you to interview. She is Carolyn Granger from Annapolis, Maryland. With help from the staff at the Joslin Diabetes Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center, she has lost 40 pounds and has been able to dramatically reduce her need to take insulin to regulate her blood sugar. Let us know if you would like to speak with her.
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