ABILENE, Texas - Holidays are a prime time to bond with family and friends, but also to overindulge on comfort food. Teachers at the Hendrick Diabetes Center warn diabetics to play it safe during the holidays.
"Pay attention to what you're doing as far as food goes, don't celebrate the holidays with food. Celebrate with family and friends and don't make food the center of your celebration," said Ansleigh Mills, dietician and diabetes center educator.
Mills said there are several ways a diabetic can maintain a healthy diet during the holidays.
"Know your meal plan, know what foods your body reacts to and how your body reacts to a certain number of carbohydrates," Mills advised. "Eat off smaller plates, that's one of the biggest hints I can give, and don't go to parties hungry. You go to parties hungry and you tend to eat a lot more."
Mills said carbohydrates turn into sugar so fast, it is best diabetics limit their intake and stay active.
"That's one of the cornerstones of diabetes management along with meal planning," Mills said. "So don't forget exercise even though you get really busy during the holidays."
If you have a family member with diabetes, you need to know the warning signs of high or low blood sugar.
High blood sugar is marked by unquenchable thirst and frequent visits to the bathroom. Low blood sugar symptoms include confusion, shakes and sweats.
"The easiest way to treat a low blood sugar is to have something with pure sugar in it ," Mills said. "So a regular soda, or fruit juice or a hard candy like life savers or peppermint are the easiest way to bring a blood sugar back up to normal very quickly."
According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million children and adults have diabetes. They constitute 8.3% of the U.S. population.