Updated 07 February 2017

Holiday overindulgence risky for type 2 diabetics

Holiday food with too much carbohydrate or sugar may pose serious risks for people with type 2 diabetes.


Overindulging in holiday food can pose serious risks for people with type 2 diabetes, an expert warns.

"If you are someone who is not in good control of your diabetes throughout the year, the holiday season can really make your situation worse," Dr. Laila Tabatabai, an endocrinologist with Houston Methodist Hospital, said in a hospital news release.

"If you are not mindful, eating foods with too many carbohydrates or sugars can send your blood sugar levels into a dangerously high range," she cautioned.

There are a number of ways that people with diabetes can prevent their blood sugar levels from soaring during the holidays.

"Try to eat two or three special things that you only see during the holiday season, like grandma's dressing or your aunt's special dessert, and avoid sampling everything," Tabatabai said. "If you have to bring a dish, fix something healthy that you like. This way you know there will be at least one healthy thing for you to eat."

Avoid carbs and sugar

It's a good idea to avoid "white" carbohydrates such as pasta, bread, rice and potatoes, according to Tabatabai. Healthy substitutes include whole grains, brown rice, fruits and vegetables. It's also important to limit portion sizes.

"For those who choose to drink alcohol, a few adult beverages are OK if you alternate your drinks with water, seltzer, diet soda, etc. Be aware of mixed drinks because many contain juices or high sugar additives that could cause a spike in your blood sugar levels," Tabatabai said.

Read: 'If you have diabetes, you can't eat carbs'

She added that family and friends are likely to be accommodating about your food choices if you're open and honest with them about your diabetes.

"There is no reason for a person with type 2 diabetes to miss out on the joy of eating around the holidays," Tabatabai concluded. "Planning ahead and being smart with your choices will give you the chance to eat the foods you want while maintaining healthy glucose levels."

Read more:
Diabetes and diet – the basics
Type 2 diabetes and diet
Diabetes: dieting tips

Image: Christmas decorated table from Shutterstock


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Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

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