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November 26, 2012

Dealing with diabetes during the holidays

OSKALOOSA — The holiday season begins in November for many people. It’s also American Diabetes Month.

Sharon Ferguson is a certified diabetes educator at Mahaska Health Partnership. She said education of one’s self about diabetes might be “the best gift to give yourself.”

Ferguson said there are a lot of Thanksgiving foods that are high in carbohydrates,  which can be unhealthy for those with diabetes. She noted that it’s not so much Thanksgiving food itself that is unhealthy, but that eating it in large portions can be harmful. Ferguson noted that using a smaller plate to keep food portions under control can be helpful.

Simple carbohydrates are found in white foods such as white bread and white rice. Ferguson said that when the human body digests these things, they break down directly into sugar. She said this isn’t necessarily a problem because the body uses sugar for fuel. However, when coupled with inactivity, health issues can arise.

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can have an impact on the health of diabetics. Ferguson noted that any time a person with diabetes has a change in their typical schedule, it can throw the body “into a whirlwind.”

One of the issues that can come up during this time of year is that people taking medication for diabetes may know exactly how that medication is working, said Ferguson. She added, there is a wide variety of medications out there used to control diabetes.

In situations where one’s schedule could be unusual, it’s always good for those with diabetes to plan ahead, noted Ferguson.

When traveling or shopping, it’s always good to keep a cooler with healthy snacks such as cheese sticks or chopped vegetables, said Ferguson. It’s also good to know what times of the day diabetics can expect blood sugar drops.

MHP offers diabetes education classes called Diabetes WISE. Ferguson said the classes focus on seven areas of self care including healthy eating, being active, monitoring blood glucose, taking medication, problem solving, reducing risks and healthy coping. For more information, contact Ferguson at 672-3422.

“If someone’s had diabetes for a long time and not had education, it would be work at least calling me and talking a little bit,” said Ferguson, adding that a diabetes educator is a an integral part of diabetes management.

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