GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Eating lots of sweets and treats throughout the holiday season is tempting for most, but experts say for diabetics, bad eating habits can do long term damage.
As part of our Ask the Expert series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis Health, 7 News’ Jennifer Martin talked to an expert to see how to survive holiday meals if you have diabetes.
Tommie Bennett was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes about a year ago, but he says through self control and his wife’s sugar-free recipes, he has been medication-free for 9 months.
“You have to learn how to let that brain up there tell you no,” Bennett said. “The main thing that I learned was getting a 9-inch plate. When I look at that plate, I think ‘Wow, that’s a lot of food’ and I get full faster.”
Limiting portion size by using smaller plates and toddler sized utensils was one piece of advice he learned from Lina Boe, Diabetes Care and Education Specialist for Bon Secours St. Francis. She has several guidelines for diabetics going to holiday parties.
“Sugar is more addicting than crack cocaine. It can increase inflammation and its inflammation that causes heart disease, and people that have diabetes are at a 4 time higher risk of heart disease,” she said.
She recommends getting 30 minutes of exercise most days, whether that’s 10 minutes of exercise three times a day or all at once.
Another tip is maintaining an eating schedule.
“Lots of times if they skip a meal, that’s going to increase their intake later in the day,” she said.
Boe also recommends budgeting your sweets and choosing wisely. “Rather than eating something you can eat any day, try to give up food you can get every day of the year,” she said.
Boe suggests drinking four (16) ounce water bottles a day to curb your appetite. “I like to take a 16 ounce water bottle, put 4 rubber bands around it and every time you drink a bottle, take a rubber band off,” she said.
Modifying recipes is another suggestion, such as using an avocado in place of butter for a cookie recipe and plain Greek yogurt in place of butter in a cake recipe.
Boe also says sleep deprivation can increase cravings, so suggests getting at least 6 hours of sleep a day and reminds women to drink no more than 1 alcoholic drink a day, and men to drink no more than 2 a day as recommended by the American Heart Association.
Boe says for people with diabetes, it is especially important to limit alcohol because it can cause a low blood sugar reaction.