Holiday Eating for Diabetics

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - With holiday get-together centering on food, it's a tough time for diabetics, trying to stick to a healthy diet.  In this Healthcast, we have some holiday tips for enjoying great food without sacrificing your health.

23 million Americans have diabetes and it's estimated that more than five million people in the U.S. are unaware they have it.  For Anita Gold, who spent three decades working for a medical technology company, her diagnosis came as a surprise.  "I was always surrounded by doctors and specialists," says Gold, "and so I thought nothing would happen to me. I was always healthy, never had a weight problem."

When Gold attended a local health fair, she found out that she had three underlying medical concerns.  She says, "I found out I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and I had the on-set of diabetes."

Diabetes is a disease that comes about when a person's body does not produce or properly use insulin.  Dr. David Muguku with Lake Charles Memorial Hospital says diabetes mismanagement can have major side effects for those with the condition.  "They're more prone to strokes, heart disease, blindness, kidney problems, you also end up with a lot of circulation problems," says Dr. Muguku.

The holiday season can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to splurging on unhealthy foods. Dr. Muguku says diabetics need to plan their menus prior to sitting at the table this Thanksgiving.  "With the holiday season, a lot of people do end up getting off their usual habits," says Dr. Muguku, "so with a little bit of planning, they can still enjoy the holidays and keep to their diets that they put in place prior the holidays."

The biggest tip is fine-tuning your menu. Use fat-free and low cholesterol products when you can.  Also try steaming vegetables rather than sauteing them in butter.  "If you know exactly what kind of day you're going to have," says Dr. Muguku, "you can plan ahead and adjust your medications or exercise and the amount of food you will eat accordingly."

And if you're going to cheat a bit, cheat in moderation.  Finally, don't neglect the time to exercise when the turkey's off the table!