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Visions of Sugar Levels: Holiday Blood Glucose Management

by R. Keith Campbell Rph, FAADE, CDE

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s have always been magical times of the year for me. I had a great family and my social worker mother always invited homeless people and many relatives to share the feasts associated with each holiday.

I was 8 years-old when I was diagnosed with diabetes and that was 63 years ago. For 30 of those years, self-monitoring devices for blood glucose were not available and the ability to know your blood sugars and keep them close to normal levels was a guessing game at best. I remember learning very early in my life with diabetes that there were not many foods, including desserts, that were forbidden.

Early on, I was taught the Exchange System diabetes diet. One could substitute a small portion of a potato for a slice of bread for example. By substituting one type of carbohydrate for another, I could at least taste every delicacy put in front of me. Portion size was especially important. I love pie, and this allowed me to take a small taste of the apple, pumpkin, mince meat and other desserts without having to drink massive amounts of water and run to the restroom to urinate every few minutes.

When blood glucose monitoring became available, I was astonished at how well I could use my system of substitution and keep my blood sugars reasonably close to normal. When people ask me about the greatest development in diabetes in the time I have had it, blood glucose monitoring is always first or close to it. I also rationalized that on the few holidays during the year, I could maybe eat differently than usual and not do too much damage to my system. I thus went from having a scale and measuring portions of food that I was directed to eat to learning what foods were proteins, fats and carbohydrates. I had also been taught that it would be in my best interest to not use salt and that refined sugar and flour were not the best choices for me to make when eating foods. Having a larger amount of the foods I eat being high in fiber is also a good choice.

The emphasis on nutrition management and eating with wellness in mind is accomplished by reading labels and understanding how quantity and types of food impact my management of blood glucose levels. One of the greatest blessings I have experienced having diabetes is being referred to an RD and learning about healthy eating. This holiday season, educate your patients on how best to enjoy the holidays, but not at the expense of well-managed blood glucose levels. Be sure to take your vitamin D during the cloudy days of winter, and don’t forget to have a magnificent holiday season!

About The Author
R. Keith Campbell RPh, FAADE, CDE is a leader in the field of diabetes, named the "Outstanding Health Care Educator in the Field of Diabetes in the U.S." by the American Diabetes Association, having published more than 650 articles, serving on numerous boards (including the American Association of Diabetes Educators), and co-developing the popular CADD ambulatory infusion pump.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of DiabetesProductSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.

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