Smart Steps to Watching Your Health This Thanksgiving

11/20/2014

Don’t let the roasted turkey, homemade dressing, and pumpkin pie get you off balance this Thanksgiving. Instead of stuffing yourself at one huge meal packed with carbohydrates and sugar that can wreak havoc on diabetes and other health issues, plan to eat smaller portions of healthier foods throughout the day instead. When you do sit down to eat your Thanksgiving meal, take time to savor the flavors and enjoy conversations with family and friends.

“You can enjoy holiday goodies and still manage your diabetes by being sensible with food portions,” says Magdalene Szuszkiewicz-Garcia, MD, an independently practicing endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism physician on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. “There are no forbidden foods, however; if you have diabetes it is best to avoid foods with concentrated sugar.”

She recommends that you watch your caloric intake. “Stay away from high-fat munchies like potato chips that are high in calories, and indulge in fresh vegetables and fruit,” she recommends. “Before the meal, try a hot broth-based soup, which can help you feel full and keep you from overeating.”

Prepare your family’s traditional recipes, but substitute calorie-laden ingredients with those that have less fat and sugar.

Throughout the holiday season, exercise is particularly beneficial. “It is very important to get as much exercise as possible so that you are helping your body with the extra goodies that are around during the holidays,” Dr. Szuszkiewicz-Garcia says. “Go out and take a walk with your family after the Thanksgiving meal. Consider cheering actively by jumping up and down or dancing while watching the football gameThe increase in your physical activity will really help.”

Dr. Szuszkiewicz-Garcia explains that one reason diabetes has become so prevalent is that the typical American diet is high in fat and concentrated sugars. When combined with inactivity, these habits become strong risk factors that cause many adults to develop
type 2 diabetes.

Current figures show that the number of adults with diabetes in the United States is on the rise, and it is estimated that one-third of those may have the disease without knowing it, according to the National Institute of Health. In addition, about one out of every four adults has what’s called prediabetes.

“People with diabetes have high levels of glucose, or sugar, in their blood because their bodies have trouble using or producing insulin,” Dr. Szuszkiewicz-Garcia explains. What may start out as being overweight can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. All of these can increase a risk for cardiac disease and stroke.

“We encourage people to reduce their risk of developing diabetes and heart disease by adopting a healthy lifestyle, eating less and exercising more,” says Dr. Szuszkiewicz-Garcia. “If you have diabetes, controlling your blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, and diet can prevent or delay complications.”

Managing your dietary habits is important during the holiday season, but it is also a lifelong commitment. If you embrace the challenge, you’ll not only feel better and have more energy, you’ll be making an important investment in your health.

To find healthy recipes this holiday season visit MethodistHealthSystem.org/HealthyRecipes and fight off holiday weight gain.

About Methodist Health System
Guided by the founding principles of life, learning, and compassion, Methodist Health System (Methodist) provides quality, integrated care to improve and save the lives of individuals and families throughout North Texas.  Methodist Dallas Medical Center, Methodist Charlton Medical Center, Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, Methodist Richardson Medical Center, Methodist Midlothian Health Center, and Methodist Family Health Centers are part of the nonprofit Methodist Health System, which is affiliated by covenant with the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. Additional information is available at www.methodisthealthsystem.org. To see why Methodist Health System is a brilliant choice for your career, join our talent community at Jobs.MethodistHealthSystem.org and connect with us through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and our blog.

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