Veteran Connection: Diabetes: Tackle the holidays and win!

Holidays can be a time of joy with traditions, spending time with family and eating good food. However, for some the holidays are filled with increased stress and temptations that leave you feeling guilty and New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier next time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports in 2020 that more than 34 million people in the United States have diabetes.

Diabetes does not fit into a one-size-fits-all model. There are different types, and they are all unique. Prediabetes, also known as impaired fasting glucose, is someone who is borderline on becoming a diabetic. Diabetics are categorized into three different types: 1, 1.5 or 2. Type 1 and 1.5 are autoimmune related and Type 2 is related more to one’s lifestyle. Pregnant women can get gestational diabetes. Each type is distinctive like each person is different in how they manage and control their diabetes.

As I dietitian, I help veterans with diet and nutrition needs. To succeed, you must have a game plan. Anyone knows that any good football team doesn’t just show up to play hoping it all works out in their favor. Instead, they spend countless hours practicing and studying their opponent with a plan to win.

Some diabetics plan to enjoy the holidays then get back on track the first of next year. However, with a plan in place, diabetics can win by spending time with family and friends, enjoying favorite foods while still controlling their blood sugars.

Here’s some ways you can plan to win:

• Be prepared before you go. Don’t wait until you get to the party to decide what to do. It is easier to be successful when you know where you’re going and what you’ll be eating.

• Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals leads to higher blood sugars and less control. Eat consistently during the day and enjoy your favorite foods. It’s easier to control blood sugars than when you skip all day and eat a big meal.

• Use a smaller plate. A smaller plate can help you eat less while feeling like you are getting enough.

• Eat slowly. Savor the foods. This can keep you from overeating since the body takes about 20 minutes to let you know it is full.

• Exercise. This will help decrease our blood sugars. I have fun memories of playing football in the snow with my brothers and friends.

• Get a good night’s rest. Sleep is so important to our health.

• Check your blood sugars more often to see how you are doing throughout the day.

• Don’t eat it all in one day. You don’t have to eat everything at one meal; space it out throughout the day or even over a few days.

• Bring your own healthy dish.

• Keep in mind that too much of a good thing is still too much.

I have great memories of going to Grandma’s house, eating a ton of delicious food, watching football, and spending time with my family.

If you want some help planning, contact the VA and schedule an appointment with a dietitian by calling 1-888-397-8387.

Enjoy the holidays, make memories, enjoy your family and friends, and tackle to win during the holidays! 

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