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Christmas Meals for Diabetics

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December 12, 2011
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist


Have you recently been diagnosed with diabetes and are
wondering how you’re going to get through Christmas dinner?
Or have you lived with diabetes for many years and need some
new ideas for healthy Christmas food? If you’re diabetic you’re
not alone. According to the American Diabetes Association 25.8
million people in America have diabetes and over half of us are
predicted to be diabetic or pre-diabetic by 2020. Diabetes is a
condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too
high. It means you need to take medication to lower your
blood sugar levels and watch your diet so you can keep them
under control.

Holidays can be stressful for diabetics but you don’t need to
miss out on the festive fun. What’s the best Christmas meal
ideas for a diabetic? Are all Christmas foods banned for
diabetics? How can you enjoy Christmas meals without
sacrificing traditional favorites? What can a diabetic eat for
Christmas? Don’t panic – you don’t have to spend a miserable
festive season at the dinner table because you’re a diabetic.
Have yourself a diabetic-friendly Christmas with the following
healthy suggestions.

Diabetic-friendly Appetizers

It’s great to start the main event with something light and low
in fat. Starting the Christmas meal this way means you fill up on
healthy foods so you’re less likely to stuff yourself with high-
fat and high-carb foods during the main course.

Choose high fiber crackers with a dip made from avocado. The
American Diabetes Association says diabetics should get 25 to
30 grams of fiber everyday. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate,
and when you are counting carbohydrates as a diabetic you
can subtract half the grams of dietary fiber from the total
carbohydrate value of the food if it contains more than five
grams, because fiber is not digested like other carbohydrates.

For the dip, blend avocados, minced garlic, cilantro, lemon
juice, soft tofu and salt and pepper.

Avocados are an especially good choice for diabetics. Avocados
are high in manganese, and it is thought that people with
diabetes have lower-then-normal levels of manganese in their
blood (one 2007 study from the University of Alcalá, Madrid,
Spain demonstrates this) leading experts to believe that
manganese could be useful for diabetes.

Avocados are also a good source of
magnesium. A 2003 study
from the Medical Research Unit in Clinical Epidemiology of the
Mexican Social Security Institute, Durango, Mexico reported
that magnesium supplements enhanced blood sugar control
and insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes and low
serum magnesium levels. (Read more about the
health benefits
of avocados.)

The addition of garlic to the recipe for avocado dip also helps
diabetics’ health. According to a 2008 study from the Institute
of General Pathology and Pathophysiology, Russian Academy of
Medical Sciences, Moscow garlic may lead to the reduction of
cardiovascular risk in diabetic patients.

Fish is a good choice for diabetics, and the American Diabetes
Association says diabetics should include fish in your meals 2-3
times a week, so why not try a smoked salmon appetizer with a
little lemon?

Main Christmas Courses for Diabetics
























Here is some good news. Meat is not banned on a diabetic diet,
but you need to consider the type of meat you eat. For a
Christmas meal, turkey and chicken are fine but remove the
skin from the bird to cut down the fat content. Roast the
chicken or turkey the traditional way – don’t be tempted to go
for the deep-fat trying method as this raises the total calories
considerably.

Diabetics are more susceptible to high blood pressure
(according to the American Diabetes Association, two out of
three adults with diabetes in the United States also has high
blood pressure). This can lead to heart disease - the New York
Presbyterian Hospital says if you have diabetes and high blood
pressure you are four times more likely to develop heart
disease than someone who does not have either of the
conditions. Being overweight and diabetic raises the risk of
heart disease considerably.

Use herbs and spices on the meat instead of fat and salt. For
diabetics, reducing salt consumption is vital for lowering your
blood pressure and preventing serious health problems. In a
2001 Cochrane review on adults with type 1 and type 2
diabetes, scientists found that reducing salt intake by 8.5g a
day lowered blood pressure by 7/3mmHg. Opt for a salt-free
roast and use spices like lemon pepper or herbs like garlic to
increase the flavor and create a sizzling main dish. (Read more
about
foods that help you lower your blood pressure.)

For vegetarians, vegetable lasagna is a good choice when it is
made with whole-wheat lasagna (great for the fiber content)
and fat-free cheese, plus loads of vegetables.

Festive Side Dishes

A healthy diabetic diet is no different from a healthy diet for
non-diabetics in one important respect –
increasing your
consumption of fruit and vegetables will maximize your health.

Create a fully rounded, balanced Christmas meal by loading the
table with vegetables. Make sure the vegetables are steamed or
baked without oil for the ultimate health benefits, and jazz
them up with herbs and spices.

Try Brussels sprouts with garlic and mustard seeds, roasted
parsnips, spiced red cabbage, and mashed sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index (GI) than regular
potatoes, which means they don’t raise your blood sugar as
much. Mash roasted or boiled sweet potatoes with a little skim
milk and some fat-free margarine. Dark green leafy vegetables
are low in calories and carbohydrates, so you can fill up on
spinach, kale and collards.

Serve a large healthy salad with as many vegetables as you can
pack into it, topped with a low-carb and low-fat dressing. Add
onion to the salad – according to one report from 1975 by
Mathew PT and Augusti KT onion can effectively help control
hyperglycemia.

Desserts for Diabetes

Being diabetic doesn’t mean you’ll never eat dessert again. And
being diabetic doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the
Christmas sweet course. You do need to watch how much
sugar and fat are loaded into your desserts, but with a little
planning and by making your main Christmas meal low in
carbohydrates you can eat a small serving of your favorite
dessert without suffering.

For a lighter dessert at the Christmas table, choose a fruit
salad, poached pears, or a fruit crumble. The fruit crumble can
be made extra diabetes-friendly with the addition of oats.

A 1994 research study from the University of Ottawa, Ontario,
Canada found beta-glucan in oat fiber helps lower blood sugar
and insulin levels in type 2 diabetics.

And in a 2002 study from the University of Minnesota Medical
School, Minneapolis oat-based cereals significantly reduced the
need for blood pressure lowering medication – make sure the
oats are whole meal.

Sprinkle the crumble or fruit salad with cinnamon – according
to a 2003 study from the NWFP Agricultural University,
Peshawar in Pakistan cinnamon helps improve blood sugar
levels, lower levels of fasting glucose, decreased triglycerides,
LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol after 40 days. These
beneficial effects continued for the following 20 days. Other
studies have not been quite so enthusiastic about cinnamon
and diabetes, but it won’t harm you to spice up your dessert
with this aromatic addition. (Read more about cinnamon and
other
foods that help you control blood sugar throughout the
day.)

Watermelon is a good fruit choice as one serving contains
12mg of Vitamin C and the antioxidant beta carotene, and it is
much lower in sugar than other fruits. A watermelon serving
contains 6.2g of sugar per 100g compared to 10.3g per 100g
for apples and 9g per 100g for oranges.

If you want to, round off the Christmas meal with a small
square of dark chocolate. A 2005 study from the University of
l'Aquila in Italy says eating 100g of dark chocolate a day for 15
days helps diabetics metabolize sugar and it also lowers blood
pressure. Be careful with chocolate at Christmas, generally, as
the temptation of the selection box can set of a sugar rush
which will damage your blood sugar control.

Drinking with Diabetes

When you drink alcohol, the carbohydrate in the drink initially
raises your blood sugar levels but if you drink too much, the
alcohol prevents your liver from helping with this function and
your blood sugar levels can fall too low.

However, when you have diabetes you don’t need to stay dry
all Christmas – alcohol in moderation is allowed at the
Christmas meal table. If you are controlling your diabetes well,
alcohol in moderation won’t harm you.

According to the American Diabetes Association, women should
have no more than one drink a day and men no more than two.
Keep your wine glass small and never drink on an empty
stomach. Have water and calorie-free drinks readily available
throughout the meal so you’re not tempted to overdo it
through thirst.














Learn more foods that can help you plan diabetic meals and get
your weight under control:
Ideal Breakfast for Diabetics /Ideal Dinner for
Diabetics /Foods That Shrink Your Waist
Ideal Weight for Women
Break Through Your Diet Plateau
How Many Calories Do I Burn

Quinoa-The New Superfood?
Break Through Your Diet Plateau

How Many Calories Do I Burn


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Avocado is an especially good choice
for a Christmas appetizer for diabetics.
Substitute a whole grain pie crust in the following delicious
recipe for pumpkin pie!