Updated Dec. 4, 2007 – It’s the holiday season again― which means parties and family gatherings with tempting high-calorie meals. The festive food of the holiday season can be difficult to maneuver for people trying to reach and maintain a healthy weight, especially if they are at risk for type 2 diabetes or have been diagnosed with the disease.
Being an African American can put you at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, especially if you are overweight. But there is good news! If diabetes is a part of your family history there are ways you can prevent it. Studies show that type 2 diabetes and its deadly complications can be prevented or delayed by losing a modest amount of weight― as little as 10 pounds in a person who weighs 200 pounds.
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Making wise food choices this holiday season can be a first step toward prevention. Anyone can overcome the holiday eating challenge and avoid gaining weight by taking small steps― eating smaller portions, choosing healthy alternatives that are lower in calories and fat, and being physically active most days of the week.
Enhance your holiday party experience by taking some healthy eating tips, created by The National Diabetes Education Program:
- Never go to a party hungry. Don’t fall into this trap. Eat a low-calorie snack before the event and reduce the risk of overeating.
- Use the buddy system. Team up with a buddy and stick to a healthy eating plan. Choose one dessert and share it. Decide together what and how much you will eat.
- Size matters. Eat smaller servings. Use a smaller plate when making your selections.
- Cut the fat. Remove the skin from the meat. Each tablespoon of fat you discard contains 100 calories!
- Drink more water. Water is a healthy, no-calorie beverage, compared to one cup of eggnog that has 342 calories.
- Pace yourself. Take a break after the first course. It can take your body up to 20 minutes after finishing a meal to send a signal that you are full.
- Enjoy the party. Focus on party activities instead of the buffet table. Put some music on and dance.
Here are a few additional tips for the “healthy holiday host”:
- Healthy pot luck. Encourage guests to contribute a healthy dish to the buffet. See who can come up with the most appetizing dish with the least amount of fat and calories.
- Offer a variety of low fat, high fiber foods. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, grilled or broiled lean meats, fish, turkey and chicken without the skin – there are lots of healthier options. Increase fiber with whole grain breads, peas and beans.
- Try simple substitutions. Traditional high fat, high calorie foods have a low fat, healthier alternative. Skip cream cheese and try low fat cottage cheese or plain, low fat yogurt.
- Stay positive. Support family members and friends with diabetes and those who are at risk. If you see them slipping, don’t chastise or scold – keep encouraging them to stay on course.
The NDEP has great tools and materials to get you started on a game plan to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. To order materials or to find out more about the Small Steps. Big Rewards. Prevent Type 2 Diabetes campaign, call 1-800-438-5383 or visit www.ndep.nih.gov.