The holidays can be a challenging time of year for seniors who have type 2 diabetes. Holiday parties and a busy schedule often make it difficult to stick to a well-balanced diet and fitness routine.
“For seniors with type 2 diabetes, it’s important to follow an exercise plan and eat right,” says Caitlin Rogers, Sunrise Senior Living’s senior vice president of Dining Services. “By being prepared and making smart choices, you can enjoy the holidays without putting your health at risk.”
Here are some suggestions to help seniors with diabetes safely navigate the holidays.
How Seniors with Type 2 Diabetes Can Stay Healthy during the Holidays
When temptations abound, you need more than self-control to manage your diabetes. Here are a few suggestions you can incorporate into your daily life during the holiday season:
1. Exercise in the morning.
If you are busy shopping for gifts and attending holiday gatherings in the evenings, it can be tempting to skip working out. But as anyone with diabetes knows, exercise is an important part of maintaining your health.
During the rush of the holiday season, make it a priority to exercise first thing in the morning. Walking, riding a stationary bike, yoga, or Pilates can all be done in the comfort of your own living room. Many seniors have found the Go4Life program created by the National Institute on Aging at NIH to be helpful. It is designed to help older adults improve strength, balance, endurance, and flexibility.
2. Monitor your health status.
Many of us avoid stepping onto the scale during the holiday season. The tasty appetizers and desserts that are common at holiday gatherings are often laden with sugar, fat, and calories. Extra pounds can creep up when you aren’t paying attention. For adults with diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight is important. Take time to weigh yourself every few days before a few pounds turn into more.
If your physician wants you to monitor your blood pressure at home, be sure to stay on track with that, too. Salty foods and alcoholic beverages consumed at holiday parties might cause your blood pressure to spike without you even realizing it.
3. Plan your daily menus.
No one wants to miss out on holiday goodies, but moderation is key. That’s why sitting down to plan daily menus is more important than ever during the holiday season.
Try to look at your schedule a week at a time. If you know you’ll be attending a holiday luncheon on Wednesday, for example, plan healthy menus for the meals surrounding it.
Also, don’t use the excuse that you blew your diet at one party or during one meal as a reason to go completely off track. Instead, make a concentrated effort to immediately return to healthy eating.
4. Make smart choices at holiday parties.
While you can’t usually control the menu at holiday parties and events, you can learn what choices are healthier. This is true with everything from what you drink to which appetizers you choose.
You’ve probably heard this tip before, but it’s worth repeating. Try to eat a small, healthy meal before you go to a holiday event. If you aren’t hungry, you are likely to make better choices.
Drinking water with lemon is the best way to go. If you want to indulge in an alcoholic beverage, stick with dry wine or light beer. Avoid drinks with mixers that are likely to contain sugar. As far as food choices, your best options are usually fruit, vegetables, turkey, chicken, and nuts. Skip foods with dips and sauces.
If you are looking for more information and resources on eating well as you age, visit our Senior Eats blog. You’ll find articles on nutrition, healthy menu planning, recipes, and more.