HIBBING — The holidays are a time to enjoy friends and family, and, of course, food and drink. Holiday meals are often a celebration of the season, of family and community, but for many Minnesotans who live with diabetes, the holidays can be an anxious time.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), nearly 320,000 adults have type 2 diabetes, and as many as 1.4 million Minnesotans have prediabetes.

Often, many do not know they have the disease.

Only about 1 in 4 people even know they have the condition, the MDH reported.

But, as Jackie Van Ert, a registered dietitian and diabetes educator at Essentia Health, pointed out, the holidays don’t have to be stressful for people with diabetes.

“Don’t let questions about what to eat, how much to eat and meal timing dampen your spirits,” she said in a release. “With a little preparation, you can enjoy the holidays along with your family and friends.”

Because many individuals who live with diabetes use a schedule to regulate between meal times, the holiday season can become a challenge due to the odd times of large meals.

“Plan how you will make changes if the meal does not line up with your regular schedule,” Van Ert suggested. “If you take insulin injections or a pill that lowers blood glucose, you may need a snack at your normal meal time to prevent a low blood glucose reaction.”

Another useful tip offered by Van Ert is to be selective when it comes to those sweets and snack trays.

“Don’t feel like you have to sample everything on the table,” she recommended. “Choose foods you really love and can’t get any other time of the year.”

One of the benefits of many different dishes at a holiday feast is the ability to try smaller portions of the different selections.

As Van Ert pointed out, if you can’t decide on one or two carbohydrate foods, take very small samples of several dishes.

But what if you, like so many others, do end up overindulging?

The best way to make up for those extra mouthfuls is to be physically active, Van Ert said. Whether it is taking a walk with the family, skating, sledding or building snowmen, the best solution is to include exercise in your meal plan.

•••

Six tips for holiday diabetes control

• Focus on friends and family

• Play games, volunteer or spend time outdoors enjoying the weather together

• Don’t overdo it

• Bring what you like

• Drink in moderation

• Stay active

• Overindulged? Get back on track

Source: American Diabetes Association

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