Taking charge of diabetes especially over the holidays
Caption: Jennifer Smith, RN, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist at Northern Light AR Gould Hospital, provides diabetes management counseling to patients with diabetes.
Presque Isle, Maine (November 6, 2023) — 37 million Americans have diabetes; in fact, one in two people has diabetes or prediabetes. Northern Light Health hospitals across Maine are recognizing American Diabetes Month in November with information to help everyone make a difference against this diabetes epidemic.
November is the traditional start of holiday season which often includes lots of carbs and sugary treats - it can be a perfect storm, especially for those living with diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in the bloodstream.
There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant). About 90-95% of people with diabetes have type 2. Being diagnosed with diabetes can be overwhelming.
There can be huge lifestyle changes such as: diet, having to monitor your glucose level, and keeping your blood sugars in check.
While there isn’t a cure for diabetes, there are several steps you can take to either prevent or manage diabetes. First and foremost is adapting a healthier lifestyle. Here are some tips.
- Lose weight.
- Eat healthy food.
- Be physically active.
- Take medicine as prescribed.
- Get diabetes self-management education and support.
- Make and keep healthcare appointments.
“It’s recommended that people exercise five days a week for at least 30 minutes. It’s also important to avoid starchy and sugary foods as they can raise blood sugars,” says Jennifer Smith, RN, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist at AR Gould.
With the holidays coming up, Smith says there are ways that people with diabetes can enjoy holiday food without raising their sugars.
“Try to fill up more on food that has less impact on your sugars, such as proteins and non-starchy vegetables. You can also look for healthier recipes for dishes you enjoy over the holidays,” Smith suggests. “If Thanksgiving just won’t be the same to you without staples like potatoes or your favorite pie, be sure to be thoughtful in what you choose and eat smaller portions of those foods.
Most importantly, Smith encourages people to enjoy the holidays. “Stress, anxiety, and depression can also raise your blood sugars. Try not to worry and stress if you get off track. The important thing is to get back on track as quickly as possible.”