Today is Nov. 8, 2021

Published 3:28 pm Monday, November 8, 2021

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Diabetes affects hundreds of millions of people across the globe, and more and more people are being diagnosed with this often preventable disease every year.

According to the World Health Organization, 108 million people across the globe were living with diabetes in 1980. In 2019, the International Diabetes Foundation estimated that 463 million adults between the ages of 20 and 79 were living with diabetes. Perhaps even more troubling is that the IDF estimates that, by 2045, 700 million people will be living with diabetes.

A diabetes diagnosis can be scary. The IDF reports that people with diabetes have an increased risk of developing an assortment of serious health problems, including diseases that affect the heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and teeth.

Poor diet is a common contributor to diabetes. So it’s natural that newly diagnosed diabetes patients typically want to know how they can alter their diets so they can begin to overcome their disease. That’s a good place to start, as the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases notes that eating well and being physically active can help people prevent or delay problems associated with diabetes. The NIDDK notes that eating a variety of healthy foods from all food groups is essential for people with diabetes.

· Vegetables: Broccoli, carrots, greens, peppers, and tomatoes are examples of nonstarchy vegetables that make great additions to everyone’s diet. These vegetables can be especially beneficial for people diagnosed with diabetes, as can starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn and green peas.

· Fruits: Diabetes patients can include oranges, melon, berries, apples, bananas, and grapes in their daily diets.

· Grains: Whole grains should make up no less than 50 percent of diabetics’ daily grain intake. Opt for whole-grain breads, pastas, cereals, and tortillas.

· Protein: Lean cuts of meat, chicken or turkey without the skin, fish, and eggs are some examples of healthy protein sources that diabetes patients can include in their diets. Nuts and peanuts; dried beans and certain peas, such as chickpeas and split peas; and meat substitutes like tofu can make for healthy protein sources as well.

· Dairy: When purchasing dairy products, stick to nonfat or low-fat milks, yogurts and cheeses.

A diabetes diagnosis can be scary. If poor diet contributed to such a diagnosis, committing to eating healthier can help people effectively manage their disease and possibly avoid some of its more negative consequences.

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How to Manage Your Diabetes During the Holidays

When seasonal winter decorations make their first appearance, our thoughts often turn to our favorite holiday meals and beverages. Unfortunately, many of the season’s all-star dishes rely on sugar and fat for their flavor, making them not very good for us. And for people living with diabetes, poor eating habits can be harmful to your body. This even applies to choices made in just a single day.

Over 892,000 Louisiana and Mississippi residents have diabetes, and this disease is something many of our friends, family members and neighbors are dealing with. A strict or limiting diet can be even more frustrating than usual during the holidays, which leaves open the temptation to abandon it altogether. But this is not the time to give up hope! There are lots of ways to enjoy this celebratory time of year without sacrificing too much of what you enjoy most.

Here are a few tips for how people with diabetes can navigate the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day while feeling great too.

Eat Your Breakfast

People often skip breakfast in preparation for a holiday feast in order to theoretically save room for their favorite foods. However, the longer you wait to eat, the less willpower you will have when it comes to avoiding the urge to overeat.

If you typically eat breakfast, stay consistent even through the holidays. You can do this by incorporating a protein and fiber-rich meal that will help you feel fuller longer, even as the holiday dinner hour rolls around.

Step Away from the Food

As simple as it sounds, move the conversation and congregating and eat in a separate room from where food is served. This can make a tremendous difference in mindless eating. This may mean staging your food in the kitchen and setting up your dinner table in a separate room or bringing appetizers out one at a time instead of having to monitor your snacking around an unlimited buffet.

Make It Count

Negotiate for the holiday fare that’s really worth it to you, and pass on the stuff that’s not. This may mean skipping the frozen rolls and pre-packaged sides but relishing that homemade dressing or pie.

Take Your Time

You’ve waited all year for this moment. Don’t feel guilty. Take your time and enjoy every last bite. When we take our time and really savor our food, we’re less likely to overeat.

Mind Your Portions

The more we pile on our plate, the more we’ll likely eat. Help limit your portion sizes by using small plates or salad plates to modify your overall portion size.

Liquid Calories

Low-sugar, low-carb and low-calorie liquids are your best options. And as always, aim to keep alcohol intake moderate as well.

Get Physical

Start a tradition with your family and introduce a family stroll after your holiday meal. Not only does exercise aid with digestion, but it’s also a powerful tool for blood sugar management as well.

Eat Meat and Vegetables

The great thing about the holidays is the popular main attraction of turkey, which happens to be an excellent source of lean protein! Vegetables are no stranger to the dinner table, and are also essentials for any holiday plate.

Salt Is Overrated

Instead of piling on salt and sugar, use spices, herbs and other high-quality seasonings to make your dishes taste incredible. Here are some “salternatives” that you can experiment with to cut down on your sodium intake this year.

And Last but Not Least — Enjoy Your Family More

Making our holidays less about the food and more about the people who help you partake in the food translates to building memories and moments that will fulfill your spirit even more than food.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Nov. 28, 2017. 

Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD, registered dietitian with Ochsner Health System, manages the nutrition department of Ochsner Fitness Center and is founder of the Ochsner Eat Fit nonprofit restaurant initiative. 

Tune in to her podcast, FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition and follow the Eat Fit team on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @EatFitNOLA.  Looking for healthy recipes? Download the Eat Fit Smartphone app, and coming soon, check out the NEW! Eat Fit Cookbook at www.EatFitCookbook.com

For more details, visit OchsnerEatFit.org