Thursday, November 18, 2010

Holiday Survival

Week 3: LEARN
Thursday, November 18

Holiday Survival – Here’s our guide to surviving the holidays (PDF). What’s your survival tip? Do you avoid carbs, fats, or family members?

I've always been a pretty healthy eater, but since I've found out that I have diabetes, I've had to be more careful about what I eat.  Of course, this is always tough, but especially so around the holidays.  As with eating out, my biggest survival tip is to PLAN...Plan ahead of time what you're going to eat, look up the carb contents of your favorite holiday foods to see how they'll fit into your meal, and take time to remind yourself not to overdo it and to keep your plate small and balanced!

Whenever I go out to eat, my biggest tools are my purse-size Calorie King guide and my Blackberry--if I know ahead of time where we're going, I look in the guide to see if that restaurant's menu is listed and find something that falls within my carb and other dietary targets.  If a particular restaurant isn't in there, I look it up online or simply find the general type of food in their restaurant guide--i.e., Mexican, Italian, etc.  If that still doesn't work out, or if where we eat turns out to be a last minute decision, I use the index to find the nutrition facts for specific foods.

My plan is to use this same strategy, along with the carb counting "rules" I've learned, to get me through those holiday meals.  It's good to have a general idea what counts as one carb (15g of carbohydrate) for general types of food (pasta, rice, bread, starchy vegetables, fruit, milk, etc.), and be able to accurately assess serving sizes.  (Key word: accurately)

If all else fails, you can always "create your plate":
It's always a good idea, and easy to follow in every situation & meal!

Most importantly, I think, is to allow yourself to eat the things you really want to eat, just in reasonable amounts...If you don't, it seems like you tend to overeat more of the things you don't want as much and don't feel as satisfied.  Holidays often revolve around food, and I don't think you should prevent yourself from enjoying it along with everyone else--as long as you keep track of what and how much you're eating. 

Diabetes seems to deprive us of so much, so being able to truly enjoy the holidays (and every day) within reason is extremely important to our emotional health.  It's something that most people don't like to talk about, but depression is a real and pressing issue, especially for someone who is already dealing with diabetes and all it entails.  The day to day challenges of living with this disease can really be overwhelming at times, so it's important to be able to effectively relieve your stress and know who and where to turn to if you need more help.  Also, I want to emphasize how imperative it is not to feel ashamed for feeling like you need some extra help in dealing with these emotional issues...Mental health is often overlooked in the context of disease management, and it's one of the most important things in considering the overall well being of a person.  In the U.S., psychological disorders are still stigmatized, despite how prevalent they really are, so it's very common for someone to be fearful of getting the help they need just because they don't want to feel like a failure or that there is something "wrong" with them.  It's so important to realize that not getting the help you need is much more damaging to you than the perceived consequences of seeking it out, over the holidays or at any time of the year.


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