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Feature Article Don't Blow Your Diet: Five Tips for the Holidays

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It’s that “food-centric” time of year when tempting foods surround us. Whether your weakness is walnut fudge or ladles of gravy, the holidays have a bad reputation for ruining diets. But throwing nutrition to the wind is especially concerning for those with diabetes where wholesome eating is important for health, and maintaining stable blood sugars promotes a sense of well being.

Theresa Anderson, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, shares these tips to make it through the holidays:

Set Achievable Goals
Anderson, who has spent more than 25 years treating people with eating disorders, knows that addressing eating attitudes is as much psychological as medical. “You want to have goals that are achievable,” she said. “If there are too many rules, people become closet eaters or decide that it’s too hard and won’t even try.”

Everyone’s goals will look different, but prohibiting all sweets and treats or insisting on an uninterrupted exercise schedule during family visits and rainy weather probably isn’t reasonable. 

Avoid Random Eating and Snacking
“What I see most commonly that’s problematic is random eating,” said Anderson. “I think it’s good for people to pick moderate portions of their favorite foods for one meal on a holiday, but where it gets to be a problem is if uninhibited eating starts Thanksgiving morning and doesn’t end until Valentine’s Day.” 

Be Selective
A one-meal splurge doesn’t give you a free pass to pile up your plate. Pick the things you want the most, not a little bit of everything.

Stick to a Schedule
Anderson encourages people to stick to their typical schedule as much as possible during the holidays — exercise, regular meal plans and healthy snacks keep the body’s blood sugars stable.

Develop a Taste for the Things That Are Good for You
Conditioning your body to like the foods that are good for you are a great preventive measure before the holidays and help you in the long run. Anderson, who facilitates the diabetes support group at Good Sam, often hears from new attendees a belief that their craving — sweet/salty/soda — will just never go away. “The reality is that people develop a taste for the things that they eat,” she said. “My regular attendees have inspiring stories about how their tastes changed once they started eating nutritious food regularly and cut out the junk.”

Don’t want to tackle the holidays alone? Attend a support group or class about diabetes, weight loss, wellness and more.