Approximately 98 million American adults—more than 1 in 3—have prediabetes. Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is one of the most common health conditions facing American adults today, making it a huge concern during the holiday season when stress levels due to finances, travel, family, food, and more are at their highest.
As the holiday season kicks into high gear, managing prediabetes may seem like an added challenge. The abundance of festive parties, busy schedules, and plenty of fun food and drinks can make prioritizing your health and wellness challenging. However, with a mindful approach and a few simple strategies, you can navigate the holiday hustle and effectively manage prediabetes without feeling deprived. Let's explore some practical tips to help you make healthier choices and maintain balance during this joyful but hectic time.
Plan and Prioritize Meals
Walk into any holiday party or gathering with a solid plan for meals. Aim for balanced and nutritious options, including lean proteins, whole grains, and plenty of vegetables. Plan your meals ahead of time to avoid an abundance of impulsive, unhealthy choices. Also, consider preparing a couple of nutritious side dishes to bring to the party, which allows you to control some of your options and makes you a nice guest (a win-win!)
Practice Mindful Eating
It's easy to overindulge during holiday celebrations, which is why practicing mindful eating is crucial for those with prediabetes. Use smaller plates to naturally help control portions, and take extra care to slow down and savor each bite and moment with your friends and family. Also, take a moment to rate your hunger before your first bite, halfway through your meal, and close to the end. Being mindful of your hunger rating ensures that you don’t overeat.
Amidst the hustle and bustle, it's essential to stay hydrated. Drinking water throughout the day helps control hunger, aids digestion, and supports overall health. If you're attending holiday parties, alternate between water and other beverages to manage your calorie intake and reduce your consumption of sugary drinks.
Choose Treats Wisely
You don't have to deprive yourself of holiday treats when managing prediabetes but choose them wisely. Opt for healthier versions of your favorite dishes and desserts, incorporating whole grains, natural sweeteners, and fresh fruits. By being a little more selective about your treats, you can satisfy your cravings without causing significant spikes in your blood sugar levels.
Don't let a busy schedule be an excuse to skip physical activity. Incorporate short bursts of exercise throughout the day, such as taking a brisk walk or doing quick workouts at home. Physical activity not only helps manage blood sugar levels but also reduces stress, a common factor during the holiday season.
Speaking of stress, finding effective ways to manage it is crucial for those with prediabetes. Incorporate stress-reducing activities into your routine, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga. Prioritize self-care, like maintaining your medication routine, getting enough sleep, etc. to maintain both your physical and mental well-being.
Communicate Dietary Needs
When attending holiday gatherings, don’t feel ashamed or fearful to communicate your dietary needs to the host in advance. Clear communication of what you can and cannot eat ensures healthy options are available, and it reduces the likelihood of feeling pressured to eat foods that may not align with your prediabetes management plan.
Monitor Blood Sugar Levels
Regularly monitoring your blood sugar levels, especially during the holiday season, will provide valuable insights into how your dietary choices and lifestyle habits impact your health. Keep track of your levels and make adjustments to your routine as needed.
Managing prediabetes during the busy holiday season is about finding a balance that works for you. By planning ahead, making mindful choices, staying active, and prioritizing self-care, you can enjoy the festivities without compromising your health. Remember, it's not about deprivation but making informed decisions that align with your well-being. With these simple strategies, you can navigate the holiday hustle and set the stage for a healthier and happier new year.