Holiday help for diabetics

My hus­band and sev­er­al fam­ily mem­bers are dia­bet­ics, and I’m mind­ful of their health chal­lenges when pre­par­ing hol­i­day meals. Hol­i­day cel­eb­ra­tions are all about food, and this can be a very chal­len­ging time for in­di­vidu­als deal­ing with dia­betes. Hol­i­day stress and boun­ti­ful food can lead to im­pulse eat­ing and risky blood-sug­ar levels.

For­go­ing all hol­i­day foods isn’t really an op­tion for those with dia­betes, since food is a ma­jor part of our cel­eb­ra­tions. With some plan­ning and by keep­ing to your routine, you, too, can man­age your dia­betes and keep blood sug­ar un­der con­trol. Try these tips to help face the hol­i­days head on:

Mon­it­or your blood sug­ar — Main­tain your routine of check­ing your blood sug­ar and mon­it­or more closely if eat­ing fre­quently or at ir­reg­u­lar times.

Eat be­fore the party — To avoid over­eat­ing, eat sens­ibly dur­ing the day of a party. Oth­er­wise you’ll ar­rive hungry, mak­ing it hard to main­tain con­trol. It’s im­port­ant to spread your car­bo­hydrates evenly throughout the day to bet­ter man­age dia­betes.

Be choosy — Look over the food of­fer­ings, and don’t waste cal­or­ies and car­bo­hydrates on foods you could eat any­time. Save space in your meal plan for “spe­cial” hol­i­day treats. Some people find it help­ful to keep a food journ­al dur­ing the hol­i­days to help track car­bo­hydrates and avoid over­eat­ing.

Downs­ize por­tions — Trim your por­tion sizes, es­pe­cially if you’re not cer­tain about the in­gredi­ents in a tempt­ing cas­ser­ole or dessert. Con­trol the amount you eat by either lim­it­ing your­self to one trip through the buf­fet line, or make the first trip primar­ily ve­get­ables and salad, then your second help­ings could be small por­tions of hearti­er, rich­er fare.

Bring your own health­ful food — Food won’t be a chal­lenge if you take along a ve­get­able dish to share that con­tains little or no car­bo­hydrates (like my re­cipe for Mi­crowave Lem­on and Gar­lic Green Beans). Oth­ers will ap­pre­ci­ate the low-cal­or­ie op­tion as well. Con­sider re­vis­ing a fa­vor­ite hol­i­day re­cipe by sub­sti­tut­ing lower-cal­or­ie in­gredi­ents. For ex­ample, in­stead of fried onions in the green bean cas­ser­ole, add roas­ted, car­a­mel­ized onions and lower-fat mush­room sauce. For dessert, use sug­ar-free gelat­ins or pud­dings.

Keep eat­ing in per­spect­ive — Fo­cus on the fun, not the food. En­joy con­nect­ing with fam­ily and friends dur­ing the hol­i­day gath­er­ings. Spend your time in con­ver­sa­tion rather than think­ing about what’s on your plate. It’s of­ten help­ful to keep your back to the buf­fet table, or move to an­oth­er part of the room.

Stay act­ive and get plenty of rest — Hol­i­day stress and fa­tigue can be re­duced with ad­equate sleep and ex­er­cise. Phys­ic­al activ­ity, like walk­ing or lift­ing weights, will lower your stress, burn cal­or­ies and help con­trol blood sug­ar. Lack of sleep can in­flu­ence your hun­ger and in­crease stress.

Use these tips and this de­li­cious re­cipe for Mi­crowave Lem­on and Gar­lic Green Beans to safe­guard your health. Have a happy hol­i­day sea­son!

Mi­crowave Lem­on and Gar­lic Green Beans

This easy mi­crowave re­cipe uses steam to cook the dish quickly and bring out the best fla­vors in fresh green beans. Toss­ing the green beans in the gar­lic-in­fused oil, lem­on juice and basil is a de­li­cious way to fin­ish the dish.

1 pound fresh green beans, prefer­ably thin French haricots or frozen, whole green beans

2 ta­ble­spoons wa­ter or re­duced-so­di­um chick­en broth

1 ta­ble­spoon Itali­an season­ing

1&1/2 ta­ble­spoons olive oil 

2 cloves gar­lic, smashed, peels dis­carded

1/2 tea­spoon salt

1 tea­spoon freshly ground black pep­per

1 ta­ble­spoon lem­on juice

1 tea­spoon grated lem­on zest

3 to 4 fresh basil leaves, minced

1. To trim green bean ends: Gath­er a hand­ful and stand them up on the cut­ting board while hold­ing loosely so the beans line up. Then lay them flat and trim the ends. Cut the beans in­to pieces, about 2 inches long.

2. Place beans in glass bowl with the wa­ter or chick­en broth and 1/2 ta­ble­spoon of Itali­an season­ing. Cov­er with plastic wrap and mi­crowave on high 2 minutes. 

3. Heat olive oil in a large fry­ing pan over high heat. Add gar­lic cloves and stir about 1 minute to sea­son the oil. Be sure not to brown or burn gar­lic, or it will taste bit­ter. Re­move gar­lic and dis­card. Add beans, re­main­ing Itali­an season­ing, and salt and pep­per. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes, un­til beans are crisp-tender and take on a golden brown col­or.

4. Lower heat, then pour lem­on juice over beans. Stir beans, turn off heat and sprinkle with lem­on zest and basil. Makes 4 servings. 

(Ad­di­tion­al in­form­a­tion is provided   by Lynda John­son, nu­tri­tion and health edu­ca­tion spe­cial­ist at the Uni­versity of Mis­souri Ex­ten­sion.) ••

An­gela Shelf Medear­is is an award-win­ning chil­dren’s au­thor, culin­ary his­tor­i­an and the au­thor of sev­en cook­books. Her Web site is www.di­ 

You can reach at .

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