How To Manage Your Chronic Illness During the Holidays
With the holidays here it is sometimes hard to plan holiday meals that are as healthy as they are delicious and we are tempted to eat in excess. This is made harder if you or a family member or friend has a special diet due to a health condition like high blood pressure or diabetes. During the holidays our regular routine is changed and you are more tempted to eat unhealthy foods that are high in calories, fats, salt, and sugar.
What can you do to eat healthy meals during the holidays?
Here are seven tips on how to eat healthy during the holidays even if you have a chronic condition like diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
1. Eat at your regular time.If you have diabetes you know it is important to keep your blood sugar steady. While you may not be able to prepare the foods you will be eating, try to have dinner at your usual time to keep your blood sugar under control. If dinner will be later than normal, make sure to have small healthy snacks during your normal dinner time. When dinner is ready serve yourself a smaller plate.
2. Bring a healthy dish. If you are invited to a party and you know there may be many unhealthy food options, offer to bring a healthy vegetable dish. You can prepare a healthy vegetable dish that is high in fiber and protein but low on calories, fat, salt and sugar. Be careful with how you prepare the vegetables and any dressings you may use in your recipe as breading, frying or fatty dressings can easily pack on the calories. For recipe ideas from the United States Department of Agriculture click here.
3. Don’t skip meals. Do not try to save up for a big holiday dinner by skipping meals. You will be more likely to overeat since you will be really hungry. Skipping meals can make it harder to keep your blood sugar under control if you are diabetic. You will also be more likely to overeat fatty, unhealthy foods that can affect blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
4. Mind the treats. If you have a sweet tooth, it is easy to overindulge during the holidays. If you end up eating too many sweet treats, cut back on other carbs like bread, rice and potatoes during dinner.
5. Don’t drink your calories. Be careful about what you are drinking during the holidays, since sugary drinks and alcohol can add many calories. Try to drink water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. It is also a good idea to limit the amount of alcohol you drink since drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure to unhealthy levels.
6. Make time for exercise. It is hard to find time to work out during the holidays. There are so many special occasions to fit in, but getting enough physical activity can help you manage your health conditions during this time of festivities. Making time for exercise can help you keep chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol under control. It is also a great stress reliever during this very stressful time of the year.
7. Get enough rest. During the holiday season people tend to stay out later and miss out on sleep. Losing sleep can make it harder to control your blood sugar if you are diabetic. Lack of sleep can also have other long term effects like affecting your cholesterol levels and your body’s ability to keep stress hormones balanced, which can lead to high blood pressure and obesity.
Making healthy food choices during the holidays can help you keep your health conditions under control. This makes it easier to focus on having fun instead of feeling guilty because you ate or drank too much. Remember what the holiday season is about spending time with loved ones and celebrating this special time.