Diabetes Health Type 1: Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa

Hanukkah treats? Christmas traditions? Kwanzaa celebrations?

The holiday celebrations always involve a lot of sugar-, fat- and carbohydrate-laden sweets and high-fat goodies. It can be a challenge to take part in seasonal celebrations and still maintain a semblance of control over your diet and blood glucose.

Feasts for the Holidays

During Hanukkah, the Jewish eight-day Festival of Lights, eating fried foods rich in oil is a tradition. Latkes (fried potato pancakes) served with apple sauce and sour cream and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) are some of the treats you will find at many Hanukkah meals.

Christmas celebrations have a multitude of food traditions from many cultures. Some favorites are roasted turkey and ham, fruitcakes (yes, some people actually eat them), plum pudding, fancy cookies and eggnog.

Kwanzaa, a seven-day celebration rooted in African traditions, begins on December 26. Foods served at the sixth-night feast— black-eyed peas, okra, greens and sweet potatoes—connect African-Americans to their heritage.

So, What’s a ‘Pumper’ to Do?

These holiday feasts are a good reason to use the extended or square wave or the combination bolus functions in your pump. Some people have had success with giving 20 to 30 percent of the bolus for the total carb count at the start of the meal and setting an extended bolus for four or five hours for the higher-fat and higher-protein foods.

You might be someone who needs to use an extended bolus for the entire meal, lasting four to five hours. Is the “bolus as you eat” method your best option?

Everyone is different, and food choices will vary. Practice at home with a few favorite foods before having a holiday feast.

You should keep extra blood glucose test strips on hand to check more often and make corrections, if needed. Go ahead, have that piece of pie, but do some homework beforehand to find out the carbohydrate, fat and calorie amounts and the type of bolus you need for whatever you plan to eat. You might also commit to an extra walk or a half hour of dancing to burn off the extra calories.

If you are concerned about added calories, explore the many low-fat recipes available on the Internet or get an appropriate cookbook from your local library or bookstore.

Latkes can be made with shredded zucchini as well as potatoes and can be topped with applesauce or low-fat sour cream. Try using pan sprays to help lower the amount of fat used when frying; they don’t have to be deep fried. Add a green salad or vegetables to increase the fiber in your meal. Include foods with high water content—broth-based soups, fresh vegetables. Eat smaller portions of calorie-dense foods like pies, cakes and eggnog. Kwanzaa foods do not have to be cooked with large amounts of animal fats. Experiment with other flavorings, lean pork products and vegetarian meat substitutes.

Your registered dietitian might have suggestions for reducing the fat and carbs in your traditional holiday favorites.

Happy Pumping for the Holidays!

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