Now that we’re in November, it won’t be long until the holidays are upon us. That means decorations, gifts, celebrations, and, of course, seasonal treats!
Eating during the holidays can be enough of a challenge for healthy individuals. By the time January rolls around, a lot of us find that our clothes are a lot snugger than they were just a couple of months earlier. For those who have diabetes, avoiding sweet treats isn’t only a matter of putting on some extra pounds – it’s absolutely necessary to avoid serious medical issues!
Before we talk more about eating a healthy, well-balanced diet if you are diabetic, let’s start by taking a moment to explore how diabetes and the health of your feet are connected.
Diabetes is a disease caused by elevated sugar (glucose) levels in the blood stream. Excessive sugar causes problems in several body systems, including the nervous, immune, and circulatory systems. (Of course, if you’ve read the book Sugar Crush, you already know sugar is bad news for your body!)
In different—and sometimes connected—ways, those systems play a role in the health of your feet. The nervous system allows you to recognize when issues arise and need to be resolved (which is especially important when we talk about body parts that are frequently covered by socks and shoes). The immune system both fights infections and helps wounds heal. And the circulatory system provides the tissues in your lower limbs with oxygen and essential nutrients.
When excess sugar creates issues and impairs how those systems work, it creates dangerous situations for your body, including your feet!
That means you need to take special care and measures—like with a diabetic foot care plan—to protect your lower limbs.
One of the most important things you can do to stay safe when you have diabetes is to manage your blood sugar levels. A key part of this is making sure you practice the right eating (and drinking) habits, which includes:
Eating the right foods. Base your normal diet on foods that are both rich in healthy (complex) carbohydrates and fiber. This will help your body with both digesting your food and regulating blood sugar levels. To do so, make sure your meal plans include fresh vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans, etc.), nuts, and low-dairy products. Further, it is important to be mindful of the portions you consume. (Really, these are all great eating habits for all individuals – diabetic or not!)
Avoiding—or, at the very least, limiting—sugar in your diet. Eating complex carbs and high-fiber food is a great start, but you also need to avoid simple carbs (including sugars). Remember, sugar actually comes in a variety of forms (fructose, glucose, sucrose, etc.). Additionally, take a pass on refined (“white”) flour (since it will spike your blood sugar).
Avoiding soft drinks. Along with foods that contain copious amounts of sugar, take a pass on soft drinks and high-sugar fruit juices. Basically, when deciding which kinds of beverages to order at the restaurant or buy at the story, choose options like unsweetened tea or coffee, and make water your beverage of choice. Something you may want to consider (if you drink coffee) is to add cinnamon to black coffee. This helps to regulate your blood sugar, and is also surprisingly delicious.
No matter which holidays you celebrate, we hope you are able to spend quality time with your loved ones. Further, we hope you can avoid the pitfalls that come from holiday eating. Even if you don’t have diabetes, it’s easy to put on some extra weight during the season. And if you are diabetic, it can be overstated how important it is for you to be mindful of what you’re eating.
Remember, McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group is here for all of your podiatric needs – including diabetic foot care services. If you have diabetes, come see us so we can work together to create a plan to keep your lower limbs safe and lower your risk of serious medical complications.
For more information—or to request an appointment—call our Carmichael, CA office at (916) 961-3434.