But all the rich food during the holidays can make mealtime stressful for diabetics. The valley has some of the highest rates of the disease. One Fresno medical center is teaching diabetics how to make healthy choices for the holidays, and why the eating advice is good for everyone.
Registered dietician, Melissa Ortiz is shows Kaiser member Sean Moe how to eat the holiday foods he loves, while he manages his diabetes. The 38 year old insurance agent from Madera, jokes that his health changed along with his marital status. "I got married about 3 years ago. I'm not blaming my wife, but I put on a lot of weight in a short period of time," said Moe.
But Sean took his health seriously and made lifestyle changes, like cutting out junk food and soda, and exercising more after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, just two months ago. "If I do eat too much, then I know I gotta get on the treadmill and do some kind of activity and bring those sugar levels down."
Ortiz says the holidays are especially challenging for diabetics who are faced with all the foods that can spike their blood sugar levels and jeopardize their health. But it's all about moderation.
"You don't have to deprive yourself, because if you deprive yourself, that makes people feel worse. Plan ahead. Plan ahead for what's to come and sort of strategize what the situations might be and practice portion control more than anything else," said Ortiz. She says simply using a smaller plate for one trip to the table can keep your calories under control. Also, load up on veggies and keep a light touch on carbs like stuffing and potatoes.
And yes, you can have dessert. If you don't want to miss out on the taste of real pumpkin pie, make one without the crust. That alone, saves 200 calories. Eating healthier alternatives isn't just a good idea for diabetics.
Other ways to skip on calories but not on flavor; make a pumpkin parfait with pumpkin puree and sugar free vanilla pudding -- and make a festive drink with a sugar free mix and a diet clear soda.
Sean is seeing real results from his new eating and exercise habits. Thankful that he has support to stay healthy over the holidays.
Kaiser Permanente dieticians offer classes for diabetics on making lifestyle changes to manage their disease and improve their health. They suggest, after a holiday meal, take a walk with family to boost your connection with loved ones while burning calories.