Avoiding the holiday weight gain 1 December 2013 The Christmas and New Year holiday period is a good time to relax, unwind and refresh your mind and body for the new year ahead. People with diabetes can still enjoy the festivities just as much as anyone else. However, the eating and drinking often starts well before 25 December and continues past 1 January, which can leave you just that little bit heavier come the end of your holiday break. Overindulging too much during the holiday period can also have an impact on your blood glucose levels (BGLS) We have some tips on how you can prevent the all too common, post-holiday weight gain. Never go to a party hungry! If you go to a party starving hungry, it becomes very difficult to choose healthier foods and limit your portion sizes. Have a small, healthy snack before you go, such as a small tub of reduced fat yoghurt, a small handful of unsalted nuts or a slice of wholegrain toast with some reduced fat cottage cheese and tomato. Portion sizes are still the key. Christmas parties, family dinners and going away on holiday often means that there are treat foods high in fat and sugar constantly around you. Christmas and holidays are a time to enjoy delicious food and a small overindulgence is not going to hurt too much. Enjoy the foods that you love during this time; however, limit your portions to one small serving and remember the healthy plate guide â€“ Â½ of your plate filled with salad and/or non-starch vegetables, Â¼ of your plate a lean protein serve (the size of your palm) and the other Â¼ of your plate is your carbohydrate serve (bread, rice, pasta, potato etc, the size of your clenched fist). If you find that lots of desserts are on offer during this time, share them with someone or choose fruit more often and save having dessert for Christmas day. Smart drinking. For many people, the festive season often involves drinking too much alcohol as well. Alcohol is very high in kilojoules (energy) and can quickly contribute to weight gain. Did you know that one standard glass of wine takes about 20 minutes of brisk walking to burn off? A can/bottle of beer takes almost 30 minutes of brisk walking. To look after your waistline, alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic (sugar free) drinks, such as water, soda water or diet soft drink. Choose lower kilojoule drinks such as light beer, wine, champagne or vodka with soda water and fresh lemon/lime, rather than full strength beer or cider, cocktails and spirits mixed with a sugary drink. If you have invitations to several parties, you might choose to be the designated driver at a couple of them. Avoid hypos whilst drinking alcohol. If you are on insulin, or certain diabetes tablets that can cause low BGLs (hypoglycaemia or ‘hypos’), then you will need to take extra care when drinking alcohol, as you may be at higher risk of having a hypo. This is because the liver is very busy trying to get rid of the alcohol and it is unable to release its glucose stores into the bloodstream. With very little glucose in the bloodstream, your insulin or tablets are still working to lower your blood glucose levels and can actually lower them too much. If you are on insulin or these certain diabetes tablets, then it is very important to make sure that you are eating some foods that contain carbohydrate while you are drinking and check your BGLs more often. It is also important that you carry hypo treatment with you and that someone around you knows that you have diabetes and is able to look out for any signs and symptoms of a hypo (which can easily be mistaken as being drunk). Always check your blood glucose level before bed if you have been drinking alcohol, and have an extra carbohydrate snack if you need to. It is best to talk to your diabetes educator about a plan for managing your blood glucose levels when drinking alcohol. Slow down your eating and drinking. Take the time to enjoy. If you slow down the pace of your eating, you are more likely to enjoy your meal and may actually eat less. This is because you take the time to savour the taste and are more likely to feel satisfied. It also takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realise that you are eating and that you are full . . . meaning you are less likely to go back for a second serve! Slow down when it comes to drinking alcohol. Take the time to sip and enjoy your drink. This may also mean that you drink less too â€“ saving yourself a lot of extra kilojoules! Avoid the leftovers trap. All too often the festive celebrations result in a lot of extra food. Rather than feeling like you have to eat the leftovers or feeling guilty about throwing them away, send them home with your guests and keep only a very small portion for yourself. You can also make your leftovers into new meals for the following days, so that you avoid having to throw them out or eating them on top of your usual meals. Leftover meat and salad from Christmas day make a great picnic lunch for Boxing Day. Balance your extra food intake with some extra physical activity. If you know that you are going to be indulging a little over the Christmas period, then make the effort to fit in a few extra walks. This will help to burn off some of the extra kilojoules and may also help with better management of your BGLs during this time. Make the most of the extra daylight in the morning and go for a walk before your day starts. Doing physical activity in the morning can motivate you to make healthier choices throughout the day. Stay positive. If you do overindulge more than you were planning to, don’t give in and think ‘I’ve ruined things now, may as well keep eating’. Get back on track and make your next meal a healthy choice and go for a walk, you will feel better!