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Keeping diabetes in check throughout the holidays

Ten percent of the entire American population has diabetes and in Texas, it’s even worse.

According to the CDC, 11% of Texans are diabetic. However, that number could be as high as 23% when you factor in people who are undiagnosed.

This year, it’s especially hard for some people to control their diabetes since their routines have changed during the pandemic.

Now, another difficult time to manage the disease is approaching -- the holidays!

How will you know if you develop the disease?

Seeing a primary care physician regularly can help find it early because simple screenings such as checking weight, BMI and hemoglobin A1C (through blood work) can detect the disease.

There are ways to keep diabetes in check

Endocrinologist with Medical Clinic of Houston, Dr. Leah Folb, said one of the biggest mistakes people with diabetes make is focusing so much on their food, they forget to pay attention to exercise.

“So when you have diabetes, you have high blood sugars, and you need to use it up, instead of store it or let it keep spinning around in your bloodstream. So, I think people don’t put as much thought or effort into the exercise component of diabetes management,” Folb said.

She says exercise can help manage diabetes and stress.

Stress increases your blood sugar

“You know, your stress hormone is cortisol and so if you’re stressed and your cortisol levels are high, it’s kind of like taking steroids,” Folb explained.

Holidays

With the busy holiday season approaching, it’s tricky to balance stress, exercise and diet.

Dr. Folb said one splurge won’t hurt you but a Thanksgiving feast isn’t just one splurge. Eating a meal full of carbs plus dessert will spike your blood sugar and can make it difficult to bring back down.

“We never want our patients to completely deprive themselves of any sort of nutrients or any kind of foods, but to do it all in moderation, and to think about how it will affect your blood sugar,” Folb said.

Plan ahead

Meal planning for diabetics can be really helpful but at the holidays, planning to bring a dish that you know won’t raise your blood sugar (something with a lot of vegetables or high protein) is going to be especially important.

Folb said keeping your blood sugar high for too long can increase inflammation which leads to heart attacks and strokes.