Diabetes at the holidays

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: December 25th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The halls are decked. The buffet table is stocked with cookies in an array of shapes and flavors, candies dripping in sugar, eggnog and, of course, fruit cake.

It’s a typical holiday party, and for most people the hardest decision is choosing between the peanut butter fudge and the chocolate truffles. But for those with diabetes, deciding which sweets to eat is never that simple.

People with diabetes struggle to break down the sugar they eat and many must take insulin to overcome this. The abundance of sweet treats during the holidays can challenge even the most disciplined. But experts say planning ahead for indulgences can stave off unwanted problems.

New research shows there is ever more incentive for people with diabetes to keep their blood sugar levels on an even keel. A New England Journal of Medicine study shows that those who strictly control their blood sugar cut their risk of cardiovascular disease in half. According to the American Diabetes Association, cardiovascular disease is the number-one killer of people with diabetes.

To stay healthy and still enjoy holiday treats, doctors advise their patients to check their blood sugar more frequently than usual, eat reasonable portions of food and exercise. Experts say people with diabetes can also set a good example by bringing healthy dishes to parties. It’s also wise to let hosts know about dietary restrictions ahead of time.

Sticking to a plan helps ensure everyone will still feel like making merry next holiday season, too.