Newswise — Overindulging at a holiday party or two this season is not going make a big difference in someone’s health. But it could be a much different story for people with type 2 diabetes. “If you are someone who is not in good control of your diabetes throughout the year, the holiday season can really make your situation worse,” said Laila Tabatabai, M.D., an endocrinologist with Houston Methodist Hospital. “If you are not mindful, eating foods with too many carbohydrates or sugars can send your blood sugar levels into a dangerously high range.” People with type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin. Most people in the United States have type 2 diabetes, which is a state of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that the body still produces insulin but does not utilize insulin properly. Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance are often due to excess weight and obesity. The complications of poorly-controlled diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) include heart disease, vision loss, nerve problems, kidney damage, and ulcers of the feet, among other serious medical problems.
According to the American Diabetes Association, normal blood sugar ranges for most people with type 2 diabetes (not including pregnant women) are 70-130 before a meal and less than 180 when checked about 1 – 2 hours after the start of a meal. Tabatabai says there are many ways for type 2 diabetics to avoid skyrocketing blood sugar levels during the holidays.
“Try to eat two or three special things that you only see during the holiday season like grandma’s dressing or your aunt’s special dessert and avoid sampling everything,” Tabatabai said. “If you have to bring a dish, fix something healthy that you like. This way you know there will be at least one healthy thing for you to eat.”
Tabatabai says try to avoid “white” carbohydrates such as pasta, bread, rice and potatoes and substitute them with whole grains, brown rice and fruits and vegetables and limit portion sizes. “For those who choose to drink alcohol, a few adult beverages are okay if you alternate your drinks with water, seltzer, diet soda, etc.,” Tabatabai said. “Be aware of mixed drinks because many contain juices or high sugar additives that you might not realize and they could cause a spike in your blood sugar levels.” She adds if you stay open and honest about your diabetes with family and friends they will more than likely be accommodating when it comes to food choices. “There is no reason for a person with type 2 diabetes to miss out on the joy of eating around the holidays,” Tabatabai said. “Planning ahead and being smart with your choices will give you the chance to eat the foods you want while maintaining healthy glucose levels.” Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MethodistHosp and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/houstonmethodist.