November and December are months of eating out at restaurants and parties. For people with diabetes this can be the time that “tries one’s soul” for many reasons.
First, the holidays are stressful times for many of us. Just read the article we shared with you last year at this time about stress and the holidays to get a flavor of what we all cope with.
Stress that is not dealt with can be a prime motivation to break one’s diet. Our unhappiness and unfilled wishes can be sated with food and drink of all nations, making us ill.
Second, this is the season of eating at different times than usual and with people who may not know that you have specific dietary needs.
Third, this is the season of sugar plums and more sweets than we see the rest of the year. We all know the new guidelines for carbohydrates which no longer forbid sugar, but the fat and calories in these foods can overload your medications in a few bites, especially if you have already eaten other foods.
What to do?
First, let’s change the way we look at the holidays and parties we attend. This is a good way for anyone who is trying to stay on any diet to think about these situations. “Parties are social occasions” . Just keep repeating this to yourself. “You will meet new and interesting people with whom to talk. The festive atmosphere will make the evening memorable, not just the food. Friends are more important than food.” Find a mantra that fits your thoughts and stick to it.
Second, let’s plan ahead. This is very important. If you don’t know how to change your meals and snack times, and mesh that with your medications, talk to your doctor or diabetic educator. Get information on how to regain control of your blood glucose levels if you overeat, or eat something that looks innocuous which turns out to blow the top off of a carbohydrate chart or glycemic index.
Be honest with yourself. Are you really going to drink sparkling water at the New Year’s Eve 2000 party or are you going to drink a sip or two of the bubbly? If you do, do you know the exchanges? Do you know how that flute of champagne can affect your blood glucose level? If not, you can be in for trouble.
So let’s plan ahead if you are going to eat out. As diabetics we eat the way the rest of the world should, and many restaurants indulge those of us who want to eat healthy by having a few entrees that will fit the bill. Ask your wait person to inquire of the chef if he/she can broil or roast some lean protein with the sauce on the side. Ask for a grilled vegetable platter with little oil.
If you are at one of those restaurants that think “more is better” in terms of portion sizes, order two appetizers instead of an entree, and notice how quickly the trend grows among the guests who want to fit into their clothes the next day. Look for salads with the dressing on the side, fish and whole grain products.
As we said before, try to have your food broiled or roasted, and remove any visual fat before you dine. At the buffet your boss gives each year, you know what will be served from years past. If there are vegetable trays, you win. If there are large fatty hams with mayonnaise and biscuits, creamy potatoes and vegetables, and butter laden desserts, you need to come prepared if this is your dinner hour.
If it is not, eat healthy at home and eat your night time snack at the party. Remember, this will be about 200 calories, so stop after that. If this is to be your dinner, try to pick the lowest fat and calorie items. You know the food will not be to your liking? Place a sandwich in your pocketbook or pocket.
Place in your serving plate and eat. Need more calories, eat fruit either from the center piece or that you’ve brought from home. Some diabetics think that people will stare if they do this. To tell the truth, I used to think the same, but remember our mantra. If you handle it, and rethink the party as a social affair and not as a place to “pig out”, then you will be just fine.
You’ll be surprised how many people will admire you for taking care of yourself, and envy your good luck in the food department. With 16,000,000 American people with diabetes, everyone knows someone with the disease, so relax and go talk to an interesting person you have always wanted to meet.
What else can you do to protect yourself? When going down the buffet line or ordering at a restaurant, take only what you need and want. Think. What size is my portion at home when I eat? What kinds of exchanges do I have usually? Make sure you look for hidden calories.
For example, breaded foods have bread crumbs and are usually fried. Make sure, if that’s all your hostess is serving, add in the fat and starch exchanges and turn down other foods or take only a bite or two after removing the coating. Remember that your friend may not cook the same low-fat way you do.
Dessert time comes and everyone is ordering. What do you do? If you have exchanges left, look to fresh berries or other fruit or vanilla ice cream. Try a skinny cafe latte which will make you think you are overindulging. Stay away from large portions of the gooies, you know the sugar and fat-laden cakes and tarts. You can bake safer desserts at home. Just look at the recipes on the site and in our cookbooks. You can indulge in Buche Noel, tarts, genoise etc.
Here is a list of healthy foods. Carry this with you during the holidays to protect yourself.
Tomato juice, unsweetened fruit juice, clear broth or consommé, raw vegetables, fresh fruit, fresh or steamed seafood.
Poached or boiled
Tossed vegetables, lettuce, sliced tomato, cottage cheese or nonfat cheese (if allowed because of sodium count). low-calorie dressings, lemon juice, vinegars
Baked potatoes, plain rice or noodles
Diet margarine, low fat sour cream or yogurt, low fat dressings
Raw, stewed, steamed, boiled, roasted, stir-fried with cooking spray
Roasted, baked, broiled or grilled poultry, fish, or seafood. Lean meats with fat trimmed. Sauces and gravies on the side
fresh fruit, fat-free or low-fat yogurt or ice cream (if fit into your diet)