Living with diabetes during the holidays

Classes set for diabetes education

SUNNYSIDE — Yakima Neighborhood Health, which has clinics in Sunnyside and Granger, is offering a series of classes for diabetics.

Called “A Healthier Me,” the classes provide education and support for those living with the disease.

“We see a great need for basic information to get to our current and future patients with 1-of-every-3 people in Yakima County believed to be pre-diabetic,” spokeswoman Leah Ward said.

The next class on diabetes medications and monitoring is Nov. 30.

Problem solving and healthy coping is on Dec. 7, and a class on reducing risk and being healthier is Dec. 14.

Call 509-454-4143 for details, class times and locations.

— Consistency is key to managing diabetes during the holiday season with all its rich foods.

Local and national health officials both agree that should be the focus for those living with the disease.

“What’s important is to check your blood sugar daily, several times a day, during the holidays,” Sunnyside Community Hospital nurse Liz Martinez said. “If the blood sugar gets too high, you can get in trouble with adverse effects.”

She said constant monitoring is important for diabetics who decide to “indulge” during the holidays.

That’s not something she encourages, rather noting the best bet is to watch the diet.

Dr. Ashok Balasubramanyam of Baylor University agrees.

“Diabetes management is not something you can do for a few weeks and stop,” he said. “You can’t take a few days off during the week, and you can’t take months off during the year when you’re dealing with diabetes.”

Because managing diabetes requires consistency, it can be very tough during the holidays, he said.

“The trouble with the holiday season is that it lasts for a long period of time. It starts around Halloween, goes through Thanksgiving and then lasts until the new year,” Balasubramanyam said. “In between, there are all sorts of sweets laying around to snack on. There’s also a lot of going out to eat. Your office has a party, then your spouse’s office has a party and your friends have a party. Essentially, people with diabetes are taking a six-to-seven week break from properly managing their diabetes because they’re not noticing this behavioral change.”

However, Balasubramanyam does offer some tips to those living with diabetes so they can enjoy those holiday meals while still maintaining their health.

“You have to pace yourself and increase certain kinds of calories by eating more turkey and vegetables but decreasing the fatty, high-calorie items. Also, you should check your sugar levels more often,” he said.

According to Balasubramanyam, if you are on insulin and you check your sugar levels regularly, then you can adjust your insulin to the amount of anticipated increase in your calories.

However, he warned this does not mean people can eat twice as much and then just take twice as much insulin.

He said it also can be helpful to preplan meals and prepare foods in healthier ways.

“Part of the problem is we are so caught up in preparing our meals in the traditional ways,” Balasubramanyam said. “For example, the turkey has to be cooked a certain way or we have to put a whole stick of butter and cream in the casserole, but there are many healthier alternatives.

He suggests prevention of raising carbohydrates to the highest extent by not putting a high-calorie glaze on the turkey and by limiting the number of sweets and pies on the table.

Lastly, Balasubramanyam recommends exercising regularly.  

“Exercise can greatly decrease the amount of insulin you need if you’re on it,” he said. “It may also decrease the dose of other diabetic medications you take, as well as improve what is called ‘insulin sensitivity.’ However, you have to exercise daily to reap these benefits.

“For the holiday season, I would try to make sure you’re fitting in your exercise routine around all of the holiday activities you’re participating.”


Comments are subject to moderator review and may not appear immediately on the site.

Please read our commenting policy before posting.

Any comment violating the site's commenting guidelines will be removed and the user could be banned from the site.

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment