5 TIPS FOR KEEPING VALENTINE’S DAY SWEET WHEN YOU HAVE DIABETES.
As sweets and treats fill the aisles during the holidays, managing diabetes is a challenge for so many, particularly on Valentine’s day. According to the CDC (centers for disease control), 34.2 million Americans have diabetes. Living with the disease and managing blood sugar levels is dependent on making smart choices.
WHAT IS HEALTHY EATING?
Healthy eating includes choosing foods from all nutrient groups. In other words, eating meals that consist of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Additionally, meals should be consumed in the right amounts and at the right time, to help keep blood sugar levels as stable as possible.
Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats all affect your blood sugar levels differently. Carbohydrates raise blood sugar faster and higher than proteins and fats. Complex carbohydrates, or those that are high in fiber, won’t raise blood sugar as quickly. These include beans or legumes, whole wheat bread and pasta, potato with skin, raw carrots, quinoa, brown rice, and almonds, to name a few. Complex carbohydrates not only contain healthy fiber but also vitamins and minerals.
Simple carbohydrates or those with little or no fiber raise blood sugar the fastest. In other words, these are quickly absorbed and lead to a spike or quicker rise in blood sugar. Moreover, simple carbohydrates have little nutritional value and lead to blood sugar levels that are harder to manage and regulate. Simple carbohydrate foods include candy, sugar, sweetened beverages, corn syrup, honey, packaged cookies, and baked goods, to name a few.
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH EXERCISE?
Daily and consistent exercise is recommended for managing diabetes. Exercise lowers blood sugar levels and reduces insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when your body doesn’t utilize insulin properly and allows higher levels of blood sugar to persist. Exercise as simple as walking 15-30 minutes per day is helpful in managing blood sugar. In general, exercising shortly after eating is the best time, when blood sugar is likely to be higher. For those who take insulin, checking blood sugar before exercise is important for avoiding hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. If it is lower than 100, it is smart to have a snack before starting out. A discussion with your physician is important before starting any new exercise regime.
ALWAYS TAKE ALL PRESCRIBED MEDICATIONS
You should never stop taking your diabetic medication or alter the dose without discussing it with your physician. The effectiveness of your medications depends on the timing and dose and should be followed as prescribed. Regular blood sugar checks should be continued as well, especially when eating foods out of-the-norm. When altering your intake, such as incorporating Valentine’s Day chocolates, talking with an experienced registered dietitian can help you figure out ways to make substitutions without wreaking havoc on your blood sugar levels.TRY THESE 5 TIPS FOR MAKING SMART CHOICES ON VALENTINE’S DAY…
1.CONTINUE HEALTHY EATING AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
When deciding on chocolate, look for ones that have the highest amount of cocoa or dark chocolates with greater than 70% cocoa, as these often have lower fat and sugar contents. Additionally, eating small pieces and limiting the quantity will curb the rise in blood sugar. Diabetic candy can give a false sense of security. These are made with artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols that have laxative effects for some people and may still raise blood sugars. Additionally, make sure to keep up your usual exercise routine and prescribed medications. Remember, consistency is the key.
2.MAKE EVERYDAY FOODS IN THE SHAPE OF HEARTS!
Let’s face it, Valentine’s day is equated with anything in the shape of a heart, and it doesn’t have to be chocolate! For example, start out at breakfast with whole wheat toast or waffles cut into hearts with a cookie cutter. Top these with fresh fruit or cinnamon. Cinnamon not only adds flavor but has been found to help lower blood sugar. There are several studies suggesting cinnamon may play a role in fighting diabetes. At lunch, a sandwich can be cut into a heart or make a heart-shaped wedge salad.
3.MAKE HOMEMADE GOODIES INSTEAD OF STORE-BOUGHT.
Try drizzling (instead of dipping) dark chocolate over fresh strawberries or raspberries. Get the added benefit of heart-healthy polyphenols when you use 70% cocoa. Berries also contribute healthful antioxidants. Polyphenols and antioxidants protect our cells against oxidative stress that is associated with aging and diseases such as cancers and heart disease. Sugar-free gelatin hearts also make a fun treat.
4.CREATE SWEET TREATS WITH HEALTHY NUTS
Almonds and walnuts are diabetic friendly and healthy choices that are also rich in antioxidants. Moreover, walnuts provide omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins. Additionally, almonds contain vitamin E and may help lower blood sugar levels. Once again a little drizzle of 70% dark chocolate will sweeten the deal! A heart-shaped apple slice with a spread of almond butter makes another sweet treat.
5.PLAN A ROMANTIC DINNER WITHOUT SWEETS.
Fill your meal with bright red and pink foods. For example, make a salad with pink radicchio and garnish with red onion slices or a few craisins. Or garnish entrees with red bell peppers or red radishes. Serve up some pink shrimp with cocktail sauce. And add a small amount of cranberry juice to make a seltzer festive. Make these simple to make tomato hearts with grape tomatoes!
SO DON’T LET DIABETES STOP YOU FROM ENJOYING VALENTINE’S DAY.
Remembering to make smart choices and planning ahead is key. Keep it simple with homemade goodies that are diabetic-friendly and will also save you money. Additionally, turn some of your everyday foods into Valentines by cutting them into hearts.
Valentine’s day isn’t all about the food. It’s a holiday about feelings and emotions. Decorating with flowers and candles or sending a card to a special someone can be a fun way to celebrate the day. And cozying up with your sweetheart for a romantic movie might just be the ticket for you!If you would like help planning for a holiday, preventing diabetes, or managing your or a loved one’s diabetes, consider a One-on-one Nutrition Counseling session with one of our experienced registered dietitians or join the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) designed to help you make better food choices and decrease your risk for developing diabetes. Additionally, our Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support(DSME) group helps improve your skills for managing blood sugars to reduce your risk for developing diabetes-related complications. Schedule an Appointment Today! (240) 449-3094