ESCANABA - The inevitable sugar rush of the holidays poses a challenge for people living with diabetes but it's not so different from the pressure felt by everyone this time of year.
"Everyone is faced with millions of cookies and mountains of desserts and special foods we eat only on holidays, so I think it's really the same challenge that anybody else faces," said registered dietitian, Paula Ackerman. Ackerman is also a certified diabetes educator at Munising Memorial Hospital and with the U.P. Diabetes Outreach Network.
The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) is an ally for people with diabetes or those looking to prevent type 2 diabetes. Their free "Just One Step" plan is a way to help people set goals and track their progress. It's also a proven way to help with weight loss.
NDEP's Diabetes Health Sense and the Just One Step program can help jump start those New Year's resolutions. It lets participants set both food and activity-related goals online to help keep track of those goals. Small, sustainable goals are key to making and keeping healthy lifestyle changes.
"People shouldn't try to make thirty changes all at once if they want to be successful," said Ackerman. "If you are trying to improve your health, lose weight or make any other changes in your life, it needs to be a slow and steady process and it needs to be one change at a time."
It's also important to remember that a balanced diet doesn't mean eating only fruits and vegetables. Favorite holiday goodies can still be enjoyed and, in fact, restricting yourself could actually be worse.
"There are no forbidden foods," states Ackerman. "It's more a matter of how the food fits into the overall picture. I encourage people to avoid being overly restrictive because denying yourself may end up pushing you in the other direction so you end up over eating and feeling guilty. Balancing desire with portion control and physical activity is essential. Keeping close tabs on blood sugar levels when indulging in the holiday spirit is also important."
Ackerman added one more piece of advice whether a person has diabetes or not. "Nourish yourself with the company of loved ones. Keep in mind that food and drink are not the only ways to enjoy the holidays."
To see how NDEP's Just One Step can help individuals kick start their New Year's resolution and keep themselves on track through the holidays, visit the NDEP website http://ndep.nih.