A Happy Healthy Festive Season: Tips for those with diabetes
Parties, big meals, snacks and festive beverages all create a challenging environment for eating healthily during the festive season. Festive eats tend to tip towards unhealthy indulgence.
For individuals with diabetes, it’s possible to have a good meal while watching their blood sugar levels. Here are some tips that can help you navigate this festive period while managing your diabetic condition safely!
Choose The Healthier Option
All carbohydrates affect blood glucose levels, so knowing which foods contain healthy carbohydrates is essential. Opt for more nutritious carbohydrates that are high in fibre, and be aware of your portion sizes.
Some healthy sources of carbohydrates include:
- Whole grains (e.g. brown rice, whole-wheat bread and whole oats)
- Fruits and vegetables (e.g. broccoli, carrots, sweet potato and corn)
- Beans (e.g. peas, soybeans, kidney beans and chickpeas)
- Dairy (e.g. unsweetened yoghurt and milk)
Cutting down on carbohydrates may give you a false sense of security and lead you to overindulge in meat. But beware of red and processed meat that are packed with sodium, like ham, bacon, sausages, beef, and lamb. Such foods can potentially increase your risk of high blood pressure, which in turn raises the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Try swopping red and processed meat for these proteins:
- Poultry (e.g. chicken and turkey)
- Unsalted nuts (e.g. almonds, macadamia, walnuts and cashews)
Different types of fat affect our health in different ways. Healthy fats are found in foods like unsalted nuts, seeds, avocados, salmon, olive oil, canola oil and sunflower oil. Some saturated fats (e.g. tallow, lard and ghee) can increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood, increasing your risk of heart problems. It’s still better to cut down on using oils in general, so try to eat grilled, steamed or baked foods instead.
Avoid foods and drinks with added sugars. Opt for water or tea and coffee without sugar. Moderate use of low or zero-calorie sweeteners can also help you cut back on your sugar intake.
Keep Moving To Stay Active
Being physically active goes hand in hand with eating healthier. As you exercise, your body uses blood sugar to get your muscles pumping. This in turn has beneficial effects as your body gets better at regulating your insulin levels, thereby managing diabetes and lowering your risk of heart disease.
Try to aim for any activity that raises your heart rate and makes you breathe faster. You should still be able to talk and only be slightly out of breath. Aim to exercise 150 minutes per week, or break down your workout sessions into bite-size chunks of at least 30 minutes 5 times a week.
Here are some exercises you can do to keep you on your toes:
- Take the stairs instead of the lift
- Brisk walk for 10 minutes when you “dabao” food
- Get off one bus stop earlier and walk home
- Have a weekly family exercise session (e.g. Qigong, cycling, yoga, or a stroll in the park)
Keeping fit can benefit your health by reducing the risk of colon cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The improvement in productivity and one’s overall mood is another bonus when staying active as it boosts attention, memory, and creativity by reducing stress and improving your mental well-being. Remember to stay safe when exercising, start slow if you haven’t been physically active in a while, and stay hydrated!
Keep Your Condition In Check
Regular check-ups and monitoring of your BMI, blood pressure and blood sugar are important as poorly managed diabetes can lead to foot complications or vision loss. It is recommended that people living with diabetes should visit their general practitioner (GP) every three to six months to monitor their condition. Annual diabetic foot and eye screenings are also crucial for the early detection of potential complications.
Subsidised referrals are available for chronic disease visits, including annual foot and eye screenings available with Primary Care Networks (PCNs) or at Community Health Centres (CHCs).
Need additional support for treatments on chronic ailments? Here’s how you can get help:
Ensure that your general practitioner (GP) is a CHAS GP and present your CHAS card together with your NRIC upon visit to receive subsidies for chronic care. The amount of subsidies given will depend on your CHAS tier and whether your condition is simple or complex. Click here for available CHAS subsidies for chronic conditions.