Guest Columnist
How to Have Your Cake and Eat it Too
Dec 9, 2015 - 11:08:12 AM

( - While celebration is always in the air during the holiday season, the reality is that this is a time of sheer delight for many, yet pure torture for those suffering from Diabetes.  This is especially true in relation to alcohol consumption and the tantalizing edibles that begin with Thanksgiving and tempt us all the way into the New Year.  How does one address these enticements without putting their health at risk?

The ramifications of having high blood sugar levels creates great concern for diabetics.  These ramifications include chronic kidney disease, foot problems, non-traumatic lower limb (leg, foot, toe, etc.) amputation, and eye disease (retinopathy).  Because these complications can be very serious and even life-threatening, properly managing blood sugar levels is of utmost importance at all times.

To help diabetics avoid holiday health hazards, here are a few precautionary measures that can be taken.  For one, you can eat a healthy snack before big meals.  This will help curb your appetite and avoid overeating.  If going to a dinner party, you can also talk to the host ahead of time and find out what food will be served. If you're like most diabetics, you probably already know the kinds of foods that will cause your sugar levels to skyrocket.  If you know the menu items in advance, you can then allow yourself time to figure out how to fit the foods into your current meal plans.  Additionally, you can offer to bring your favorite dish to share. To keep track of carbohydrates simply check your recipe's nutrition facts so you know how many carbohydrates are in one serving and the size of a serving.

You must also remember that the holidays are a time to slow down and catch up with your loved ones. If you make it a point to focus on friends and family rather than food it will be easier to make healthy choices. This is a special time of year, so eat slowly, and enjoy the foods that you normally don't allow yourself to indulge in. Keep your portions reasonable and resist going back for second helpings. If the food will be served near your usual meal time, try to eat the same amount of carbohydrate that you normally would for a meal. If you plan to have a portion of dessert, cut back on another carbohydrate food during the main course.

You should also be mindful of the fact that drinking alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels.  This is not good for diabetics because high blood pressure can worsen diabetes.  Nevertheless, there are still a few parameters that can be considered.  Those with Type 1 Diabetes must drink in moderation since it typically causes hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, the following day.  Those with Type 2 Diabetes must monitor their blood sugar for the same reason.  For women with either type of Diabetes, I recommend limiting intake to one drink per day, and two drinks a day for men. The amount of alcohol consumed should also be measured.  One drink serving is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor such as scotch, gin, tequila, or vodka.

It is necessary for diabetics to stay active in order to maintain their health, and while it is easy to let this slide during the holiday season, making time for exercise each day is crucial, as busy as the season might be. If you have a break from work or school this is the perfect time to add in some physical activity. Simply taking an hour to go on a walk with loved ones, or moving around after a meal by offering to help clean up are great ways to stay on your feet.

Most importantly, if you've gotten off track with your eating and drinking don't lose momentum or feel that you have failed. Stop eating for the night and focus on spending the rest of your time with the people around you. Include extra exercise, monitor your blood glucose levels, and get back on track with your usual eating habits the next day.

The temptation is certainly real.  But you really can get through this season with flying colors!

About Dr. Avni Mahiji

Dr. Avni Mahiji, a Board Certified Pharmacist boasting both beauty and brains, resides in New York City. The summa cum laude graduate of Boston's Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has spent her entire career helping people maintain their health, and works to share her prescription and over the counter expertise worldwide. Dr. Mahiji focuses on counseling patients on over the counter items, assuring that patients' medications are issued properly, checking for drug interactions, assisting patients with making cost effective decisions, and following up with patients on recovery and medication compliance. Dr. Mahiji aims to increase awareness of the connection between medications and overall wellness by educating patients about the benefits and potential risks of pharmaceuticals and homeopathic products. For more information on Dr. Avni Mahiji please visit


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