For most of us, the holidays were a time of going from home to home for various holiday dinners – add in a mix of parties, and commuting or traveling for a vacation, and it’s easy to forgo making healthy food choices. But now that we’re in 2020 and getting back into the swing of things, it’s important to keep our health in check!
For family members living with diabetes, the holidays can be a time when they fall out of the habit of checking their glucose levels and it can be hard to get back into the routine once the new year starts.
That’s why, for anyone who has diabetes, having the right tools is important to help monitor their health. My dad is a good example of this. Despite being in his 70s, he still works and refuses to retire, and tends to be the one entertaining and cooking at family get-togethers. Of course, this holiday season was no different. He also cooks for my kids who love his tandoori chicken and naan no matter what time of year it is. Through all of this, he is diligent about managing his diabetes, including taking advice from his doctor on ways to eat healthy and track his glucose levels.
Chef Alvin Leung is in the same situation as my dad. Eight years ago, the Michelin-star restaurant owner and MasterChef Canada judge began to experience symptoms of type 2 diabetes including numbness in his legs. Worried that he might be having a stroke, he went to his doctor who eventually diagnosed him with type 2 diabetes.
For Chef Leung, health is important year-round, but especially during the holiday season – a time when it can be easy to slip. Technology that can fit seamlessly into his day-to-day routine, such as Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system, can go a long way in making the daily juggle, especially during the holidays, stress-free.
With the new year upon us, here are a few tips to staying on track when living with diabetes:
1. Maintain a schedule
If you can, establishing a regular routine with your meals will help you control your glucose levels. The same applies to exercise – maintaining a healthy routine with exercise and meals can make all the difference. Talk to your health care professional about the best time of day for you to exercise so that your workout routine is coordinated with your meals.
Tip: An online calendar on your phone is great to block off times for exercise along with your social calendar. That way, you can see when you’ll be eating at events and when you should be making time to exercise.
2. Use technology to help monitor glucose levels
Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system offers an opportunity for people living with diabetes to stay on track by checking their glucose levels frequently, without the need for painful finger pricks.1
3. Talk to family about your dietary needs
It’s important to understand any dietary restrictions family members might have, especially before a big event like a birthday or family get together. Having the conversation before menus are set or alerting family members to your favourite diabetes-friendly foods are always a great idea. If you’re heading to a potluck, plan to bring foods that have a lower glycemic index and ask your host what they already have on the menu to make sure you’re not duplicating. Consult with your health care professional for more info on best foods to help manage your glucose levels.
“The thing about GI, is that it varies with different ingredients and with how you’re cooking your food. In general, the more you cook it, the higher the GI. So, try and undercook things or just to the ‘right doneness’. Make sure it doesn’t taste raw but that you have a nice texture to it. By not overcooking things you retain important vitamins and minerals.”
4. Make smart choices at restaurants
You can still head out to that new restaurant and enjoy a dinner out! Some restaurants put the nutrition info on their menu, but if they don’t, you can always ask questions.
Coming from a South Asian family, I know there are many rich dishes served at events with family and friends. So, for my family, it was important to know ahead of time what South Asian foods have a higher GI and think carefully about portion sizes. Sauces and curries will also make a difference, as will the number of items you have on your plate that are carbs. Check with your health care provider on ways to ensure you’re choosing smart.
To learn more, visit freestylelibre.ca
Content developed in partnership with Abbott. All opinions are my own.
*The FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system and LibreLink app (“App”), when used with the FreeStyle Libre sensor, is indicated for measuring interstitial fluid glucose levels in adults aged 18 years and older with diabetes mellitus. If you are using the FreeStyle LibreLink app, you must also have access to a blood glucose monitoring system as the app does not provide one. Always read and follow the label/insert for detailed instructions and indication of use.
- hypoglycemia is reported by the system or when symptoms do not match the system readings. Abbott Canada, https://myfreestyle.ca/en/products/libre. Accessed September 2019.
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