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The holidays have arrived! That means family time, social gatherings, work events, shopping, budgeting, that winter dance for the kids, decorating Christmas trees, etc. This also means turkeys, hams, cakes, pies, casseroles, and food, more food, and did we mention more food?

Unfortunately, the holidays also leave room for you to ignore those healthy eating habits you just so happened to pick up a few months ago. Those who have conditions, such as diabetes are hypertension, also lose themselves in the holiday frenzy, and sweep their condition management under the rug. Whether it’s the family gatherings or the convenience of snacking in between shopping malls, your health is thrown in the wind during this time of the year  But don’t throw away that eggnog latte just yet. We have a few tips to help you enjoy this holiday season while keeping your health and condition management at the forefront.

Pass the Salt…Seriously.
Salt is one of the few large factors that taunt hypertension. Yes, that deep-fried turkey and that honey-baked Christmas ham look like they’re going to taste like heaven in your mouth but you will definitely not cooperate with your taste buds. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans “suggests that a maximum sodium intake of 2,300 milligrams per day for healthy individuals. But, people with high blood pressure should limit themselves to 1,500 milligrams of salt each day” (http://healthagy.com/3-tips-to-keep-blood-pressure-levels-in-check-during-the-holidays/). So be aware of what you’re consuming and if you really must have a piece of that juicy, deep-fried turkey, limit yourself or have the host set aside a few slices for you to serve as leftovers for the next few days.

Meal Plan
Losing track of time while shopping or working those long, holiday hours can certainly intervene with your mealtime. When it comes to diabetes, or just health in general, eating on time is imperative. So be sure to eat around or close to your scheduled time. If you notice that you’re going to be out later than usual, bring a [healthy] snack. DO NOT skip a meal or meals, or you’ll be at risk for binging as well as causing your glucose levels to go haywire. Also, if you’re attending that big holiday office party and notice that the menu is full of not so blood-sugar friendly “goodies”, offer to bring a healthy snack! That way, you won’t go hungry nor will you fall into that sugary temptation.

Use the Buffet to Your Advantage
Buffets are the coup de grâce of everyone’s diet. All that deliciousness at your disposal and on full display. Don’t let that buffet defeat you! The key here is portion (self) control. For all your favorite foods, place them on one, small plate. Your next plate should be a bevy of vegetables, which are great for curbing those savory cravings. Another major key is to take your time and eat slowly. According to the Center of Disease Control, “it takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to realize you’re full” (https://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesmanagement/index.html). So savor your food!

Save Room for Dessert
Let’s face it, the holidays entail three major things: gifts, turkey, and desserts. Desserts are unavoidable during this time of the year, so it’s okay for you to indulge without overdoing it. An excellent method to help keep that sweet tooth under control is the three-bite rule. “You’ll get that amazing first taste, a satisfying middle one, and then a lingering third bite” (Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, http://www.health.com/weight-loss/15-ways-to-avoid-holiday-weight-gain#beware-the-festive). For those with diabetes, for your next meal, remove a carb or two to keep your glucose from spiking.

Exercise is usually the first thing to go during the holidays, so starting your day off with a bit of cardio can help you keep your holiday diet and condition management under control. Exercise encourages healthy behaviors and will help you to keep a momentum of movement throughout the day as well. Be sure to consume plenty of water to help curb any incidents as well.

The great thing about these tips is that you don’t have to do it alone! Schedule a checkup with your nearest Eagles Landing Family Practice! For those who may need a kick start in condition management, we can extend a hand with that as well!

You can eagerly conquer this holiday season with the aforementioned recommendations as well as recognizing your triggers. More importantly, enjoy yourself this season! Family time can seem few and far in between, so be both mindful of what you’re eating but cherish this holiday’s precious moments. 

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