Savor these happy meals, in moderation | health beat

You don’t have to avoid all holiday dishes that contain sugar or salt. Just enjoy a small sample of an item, rather than a large portion. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Pumpkin pie and green bean casserole. Sweet potatoes and sugar cookies.

As the holidays approach, it’s often difficult to navigate these decadent foods if you’re trying to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. And if you have diabetes, it can be especially difficult.

But there’s no reason to worry about the festivities – you just need to spend some time planning the party, Phallon LoveLady, Community Health Programs Manager at Spectrum Health Healthier Communitiessaid.

“Good food is part of a vacation and should be enjoyed in moderation,” she said.

LoveLady oversees a team that helps with chronic disease management for patients with diabetes.

“Healthy eating isn’t always going to help people with diabetes,” she said.

Access to fruits and vegetables, a healthy environment, adequate sleep and physical activity can all play a role.

There are many different things in the body that can cause diabetes, LoveLady said.

It is a chronic condition that involves problems with insulin regulation and blood sugar. When there is too much sugar in the blood, it can lead to health problems, such as heart and kidney disease.

LoveLady coined the acronym SAFE (Stay on schedule, Activity, Food, Enjoy) to help people through the holiday bustle.

Stick to the schedule

If you have diabetes, it is important to stick to regular meal times. Knowing how much insulin to take is also essential.

“Don’t wait to eat a big meal with the family,” LoveLady said. “And don’t try to push back your meds or overcompensate with meds.”

Bring your meds, LoveLady said, and stick to the schedule.


Staying physically active is especially important for people with diabetes.

“Think of this time of year as an opportunity to increase physical activity,” LoveLady said. “It’s an important component that doesn’t need to be bulky.”

You can always plan a quick workout before a party, but you don’t have to hit the gym or break out the treadmill. Simply choose a realistic but effective activity.

“Try a 15-minute family walk before or after dinner and try to follow a standard activity throughout the day,” LoveLady said.

Encouraging your friends and family to join in the activity will create opportunities to connect.

“Create a fun activity that everyone can participate in and get the kids involved too.”

She also cautioned, “Don’t eat until you’re full or just lay on the couch.”


Food is usually front and center during the holiday season. LoveLady recommends practicing mindful eating.

“You know when your belly is full,” she said. “Don’t continue to eat if you’re not hungry. And try to eat nutritionally balanced foods.

Healthy eating can be a challenge during the holidays, as you are constantly surrounded by tempting snacks and treats.

LoveLady recommends inquiring about the menu in advance. Then, if you prefer, you can provide healthier choices.

“Be the person who brings a healthy green vegetable to add to the table,” she said. “Green beans, asparagus, kale salad. …Try introducing your family to a nutritious dish they may not have tried before.

We all know Aunt Debbie’s Green Bean Casserole is high in sodium and calories, LoveLady said, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid it altogether.

“Try to eat just one teaspoon,” she said. “And be sure to drink plenty of water too.”

Bring a zero calorie drink to treat yourself. Try water with fresh fruit (slices of orange, lemon or lime) or choose flavored sparkling water or sparkling water with berries as a garnish.


Vacations are about having fun and spending time with family and friends. When you focus on this, it can help you manage your food choices.

And don’t forget to laugh, it’s really good for the soul.

“If you’re having fun, you don’t think about overeating,” LoveLady said. “You keep yourself busy and have a good time.”

Even so, there’s no denying that the celebrations will feature some of your favorite desserts.

LoveLady’s advice: “Don’t be too restrictive with yourself. Allow yourself to have a bite or a small piece of your favorite dish or dessert. Eat it mindfully, one slow taste at a time, and think about all the flavors and textures.

Eat with thought and intention. Savor the flavors and enjoy the smells. Remember the memories a special dish can bring.

“You know what’s going to be on the table because the holidays usually bring similar foods every year,” LoveLady said. “If you restrict yourself too much, you risk failing. And that can then lead to bad behavior or make it even harder to get back on track.

Give yourself some grace and have fun, she says.

“With a bit of discipline and a plan in place, you can enjoy the holidays,” she said. “Just do your best and stick to what you know.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *