Happy Fourth of July Weekend, Everyone!
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In light of yesterday's post, I felt I should offer some sort of assistance in dealing with the inevitable onslaught of food this holiday weekend. This information is adapted from a great piece by John Crowley, my co-host over at DiabeticConnect, and applies to just about any big-food holiday (aren't they all?).
Here are John's tips for getting through the day:
Start the Day Right
Every family has its own holiday traditions. But if you have diabetes, it's great to try to start the day with exercise. Whether it's a walk on the treadmill, a jog through the neighborhood, a flag-football game with the cousins, or lifting weights, exercise will provide several important benefits for the day. First, it helps reinforce your commitment to your health. Second, it can help reduce your appetite. (Some research shows that the hotter you feel during exercise the more suppressed your appetite will be. So be sure to work up a good sweat.) And third, exercise has a positive effect on your insulin sensitivity, making it easier to stay in your target range.
Test, Test, Test
Stay committed to testing your blood sugar. Start early in the day and make sure you're within your target range before a big meal. Make sure you test about two hours before your meal is supposed to start. This is so vital because if you test right before the big BBQ and you're high, are you really going to wait to eat? Honestly, most PWDs will simply justify ignoring a high because of the holiday. Then your numbers will likely be out of control for the rest of the day. After the big meal, test again about two hours after your meal began. This will allow you to make any corrections should you have made any mistakes counting carbs during the meal.
Counting Correctly Makes All the Difference
No matter whether you're using insulin or oral medications, correctly counting the carbohydrates in your meal is the only way to keep your post-meal blood sugars in control. If at all possible, try to use measuring cups in place of serving spoons for high-carb foods. This will help you accurately judge portion size.
If you're looking for second helpings and you're trying to limit your carb intake, reach for the meat. Or the salad. But watch out for loaded dishes like salads packed with croutons, dried cranberries, mayo and other sauces.
Watch Those Portion Sizes
Try to put everything you want on your plate in one run, and then pause to count your carbs. If you absolutely must go back for seconds, go just once, measure portions, and pause to count before you start eating. Getting an overview of everything you plan to eat only takes a moment, and it can make a tremendous difference in staying in control throughout the day.
How to Handle the "Pushers"
We've all seen it. The aunt, cousin, friend, or spouse who "pushes" food at every gathering. "Oh, you can have a little. It won't hurt." They can be tough. But you don't have to be rude. The first step is to form your own team. Ask those who are closest to you, who understand your diabetes the best, to be on your team for the day. You'll be amazed how helpful these recruits can be when the "pushers" start. Another helpful tip is to make sure "pushers" know that you are making a choice. Don't say, "I can't." Instead, say, "I don't." What can they say to that?
What to Do If You Blow It
We can be honest here. Like Miley Cyrus says, "everybody has those days." It happens. The most important thing is how you handle it. Don't let one bad day turn into the whole weekend, and then into weeks of high blood sugars. You can correct one high blood sugar. Adjust your insulin dose if you can. Get up, exercise, help with the dishes, take a late afternoon walk. Commit yourself to having great blood sugar control on Sunday.
Blowing your blood sugar goals for one day isn't good. But throwing your hands in the air and giving up for the next five weeks can have a serious negative impact on your health. So, take control and stay committed to being as healthy as you can.
The only thing that should be "blowing" this weekend is the fireworks.
Thanks, John, and we both wish you all a truly wonderful and healthy Fourth of July!