Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Holidays And Diabetes: Six Tips For Enjoying Season’s Treats

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Diabetes and Diet

Holidays And Diabetes: Six Tips For Enjoying Season’s Treats

The holiday season spanning November to January is a special time for many. Whenever you celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or New Year’s holidays there will be lavish festivities featuring buffets groaning with food. Families will unite around the dining table to enjoy the many wonderful dishes and special holiday treats traditionally served.

The hyper-abundance of rich foods, beverages and desserts can wreak havoc on the diets of most during the holidays. If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, holiday dining can pose considerable challenges. Diabetes is a disorder that leads to high glucose or sugar levels in the blood when the body produces little or no insulin – the chemical the body uses to break down sugars in the blood. Roughly 90% of diabetics have what’s called type 2 diabetes. The body’s cells are insulin resistant, and the disease is managed with careful meal planning, exercise and medication when needed. Pre-diabetes occurs when the blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be classified as diabetes. Many traditional holiday dishes are loaded with the very fats, sugars, salt and alcohol diabetics are working to minimize. How to cope? Here are six tips for enjoying the food-laden holidays with diabetes.

#1 - Plan for Best Results

Let’s face facts: you will eat. But your diabetic meal plan takes no holidays. With diabetes you must have a strategy in place to cope with the deluge of delights before you indulge. Work with your dietician and your doctor to develop a plan, and then stick to the plan. If you must sample some of Aunt Hilda’s famed dessert, know what food trades you must make to do so. Maybe you'll need to adjust your medication. Or add extra walks to your daily routine (see tip #5). Work with your diabetes team to come up with a plan that meets your needs.

#2 - Never Go Hungry

During the holidays lots of people go to parties ravenous. No wonder they overeat. Ensure you have a balanced breakfast and lunch the day of the party. Eat a small yogurt or other healthy snack before you arrive.

#3 - Eat the Stuff That’s Good for You

Start with the healthy stuff – the veggie platter, fresh salads – first, before choosing the fried, creamed, cheese-filled, processed, high-fat goodies and desserts.

#4 - Focus on Friends and Family Before Food

Too often we mindlessly munch while distracted or mesmerized by good conversation, a movie or the football game and we never realize just how much we’ve really consumed. With diabetes, you’ve got to track your food intake. The holidays are a time to celebrate family and friends. Put the food down, and give your companions your full attention. There’s plenty of time to eat later.

#5 - Step It Up

Walking after a meal is perhaps the most important thing you can do during the holidays for diabetes. In fact it’s something everyone can do during the holidays, diabetic or not. A nice long postprandial constitutional about one hour after a meal will help lower your blood sugars and reduce any stresses of the season. Invite your loved ones along and enjoy their company. You could be helping them to stave off diabetes.

#6 - Always Monitor Your Blood Sugars

Don’t skip testing during the holidays. Make sure that your blood sugars stay in check. Sometimes even the best laid eating plans go awry because you can’t always know exactly what went into that food you ate. Also, make sure someone at the gathering knows you have diabetes. If your blood sugars drop too low and you become hypoglycemic someone should be able to recognize you need help.

Above all, relax, enjoy your family and the fun times. Take some time out for yourself. Use these six tips to help you stay healthy during the holidays with diabetes.

By Cydne Kaelin

About the Author: Health writer Cydne Kaelin is a wife, niece and granddaughter of diabetics. Visit for more tips on holidays and diabetes management.


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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Weight Loss for a Kidney Transplant Patient

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By John Tiniakos

A client recently came to me for help with weight loss. He was the recipient of a kidney transplant one year ago. He was extremely overweight for his body type (he carried the majority of the weight around the mid section) and was desperate to lose the excess fat. His name is Ted.

First of all Ted had a sedentary lifestyle. He worked in an office environment and did not exercise at all. He asked me to put him on a regular exercise program. I suggested that he join a health club and begin walking on a treadmill 4-6 times per week. I also suggested that he improve his diet but he declined and said for now he was just interested in exercise. I told him to walk as long as he could and at a fairly brisk pace. He began with 30 minute sessions for a couple of weeks then 45 minutes for the next couple of weeks and then 1 hour and so on.

Presently he is alternating between 1 hour and a half and two hour walks, 5 days a week. Ted also uses the incline option for 15 minutes per session at level 1. He says the training sessions are pretty challenging and that he perspires quite a bit. Ted added that his physical condition has improved and he felt much better. He was 8 weeks into the program and was happy with his fitness progress but disappointed with the weight loss part. He had only lost 6 pounds from the time he started.

Ted came to me and said that he was now ready to hear my thoughts on diet composition and restriction. I asked him a few questions and found out that he watches television quite a bit in the evenings. And during that time he munches on snack foods. The munching continues right up until bed time. He also wakes up during the night and goes to the refrigerator for sweets, ice-cream, etc. His breakfast, lunch and dinner meals weren’t really so bad with respect to calorie, carb and fat contents.

So the real problem was his late night snacking. We had to work on that. To keep it simple I just asked him to do one thing at the beginning. And that was to stop eating 3 hours before bedtime. He tried that but said that he just could not stick to it. He found it very difficult to not munch while watching television. I asked him what time he went to bed and he said at 1:00 am. And that he watched TV until 1:00 am (which meant he snacked until 1:00 am).

I suggested he find something else to do (besides television) between 10 pm and bedtime (last 3 hours). That may help eliminate the munching because it’s associated with watching TV. I found out that he was taking part time correspondence courses and did his assignments after dinner, approximately between 6-9 pm.

I asked him to switch his television and homework time periods around - In other words, to leave his homework for the last 3 hours before bed. Because he didn’t want to miss his TV shows I suggested that he tape them each night and to watch them the following day after dinner.

This way he could still snack while watching his programming and refrain from eating during his study time. He said that was not so difficult to do because he normally didn’t binge during this period anyway. Although he still felt the urge to snack periodically but didn’t find it as difficult to fight off. Eventually he got used to this new system.

Two months later, he had lost another 15 pounds of fat. He couldn’t believe it, because he wasn’t really dieting. What happened was, because he stopped eating 3 hours before he went to sleep, he stopped waking up in the middle of the night. This eliminated his trips to the fridge which resulted in a reduction in total daily food intake – and this happened just because he slept through it (which didn’t require any work). In addition, in the mornings he woke up easier with much more energy.

Ted says he has twenty five more pounds to go to reach his target weight. Now we will work on diet composition and will follow that with increases in exercise intensity. I will update you on his progress.


John Tiniakos helps make weight loss easier through proven weight loss methods using information and analysis from the worlds leading scientists. To receive John’s Free 7-Part Weight Loss Mini Course please visit: Weight Loss Mini Course

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