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Sugar Smart Holidays

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Find the joy in your holidays while keeping your weight and blood sugar under control with these tips

Holidays are full of festive celebrations with tasty treats and drinks that are hard to resist. Eating sweet treats is part of the fun during the holidays, and the urge to enjoy desserts can be irresistible. The downside to all of the extra delicious desserts is added weight and under-controlled blood sugar levels. To find the joy in your holidays while also keeping your weight and blood sugar levels under control, follow these tips during the holiday season.

Set sugar goals

Make realistic goals on how many treats you will have during holiday gatherings. Avoid vague goals like, “I’m going to eat fewer cookies this year.” Rather, consider setting specific goals that are achievable. For instance, “I’m going to only have one slice of Aunt Mary’s homemade apple pie” or “I’m only going to eat two cookies at the holiday party after work.”

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What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. As a result, the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Type 1 diabetes is also characterized by the presence of certain autoantibodies against insulin or other components of the insulin-producing system such as glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), tyrosine phosphatase, and/or islet cells.

When the body does not have enough insulin to use the glucose that is in the bloodstream for fuel, it begins breaking down fat reserves for energy. However, the breakdown of fat creates acidic by-products called ketones, which accumulate in the blood. If enough ketones accumulate in the blood, they can cause a potentially life-threatening chemical imbalance known as ketoacidosis.

Type 1 diabetes often develops in children, although it can occur at any age. Symptoms include unusual thirst, a need to urinate frequently, unexplained weight loss, blurry vision, and a feeling of being tired constantly. Such symptoms tend to be acute.

Diabetes is diagnosed in one of three ways – a fasting plasma glucose test, an oral glucose tolerance test, or a random plasma glucose test – all of which involve drawing blood to measure the amount of glucose in it.

Type 1 diabetes requires insulin treatment for survival. Treatment may also include taking other drugs to prevent kidney damage or to treat diabetes-related conditions such as high blood pressure.

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Small treats

Stick to small portions of desserts when the cookies, pies and cakes are unveiled. A cookie here or slice of pie there will not throw off your diet, but a second or third helping can be unhelpful. Experts with the American Heart Association advise men to consume no more than 9 teaspoons (150 calories or 36 grams) of sugar each day, and for women that amount is around 6 teaspoons (100 calories or 25 grams). One slice of pie could have as many as 25 to 30 grams of sugar.

Sugar-free days

During the holidays, choose sugar-free days to balance the treats that you will be enjoying at work and family festivities. Choose a few days before or after a party to limit your sugar intake by eating more balanced, healthy meals that include vegetables, lean meats and proteins, healthy fats found in fish and complex carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and beans.

Eat before parties

Before you show up at your next holiday get-together, eat a healthy snack before you are tempted to stand by the dessert table. Nuts are considered a diabetes superfood by the American Diabetes Association and are a great on-the-go snack. Almonds, peanuts, walnuts and pistachios are at the top of the nut pyramid for healthy snack options. Edamame is another protein-packed snack. If you forget or do not have time to snack beforehand, take advantage of the vegetable appetizers to fill up on before the sugary treats are passed around.

Cut back on holiday drinks

There is nothing like a festive drink to put you in the holiday mood, but watch how many alcoholic and sugary drinks you consume over the holidays. There is a strong temptation to reach for the champagne, wines and cocktails as well as hot chocolates, sweetened drinks and soda. Swap out one of those drinks for flavored waters or seltzer to avoid the extra calories. Recommendations for alcohol for those with diabetes are no more than two alcoholic drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women. One drink typically equals a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine or 1 1/2 ounces of distilled alcohol such as vodka or whiskey.

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