Surviving the holiday season

November is National Diabetes Month, so let's put the spotlight on how you can survive the upcoming holiday celebrations and still feel good about yourself when 2009 arrives.

For the next six weeks, our resolve to exercise and eat healthy will be tested to the limits whether we have diabetes or not. Let's discuss three simple guidelines to combine the impending festive activities with the knowledge that we also are enhancing our health.

The first guideline is to make sure that you put exercise at the top of your daily to-do list. When you exercise, glucose is used as an energy source. Additionally, your body becomes more receptive to utilizing glucose properly and exercise elevates your mood. Overall, a win-win situation from all angles! Select an activity that you will enjoy and can look forward to incorporating into your schedule. Strive for at least 30 minutes of exercise on any day that you eat. If I could put all the benefits of exercise in an easily swallowed pill, I would exceed the wealth of Bill Gates.

With the upcoming holiday meals and parties, food planning is the second guideline that will enhance your health. If you are going to a party, eat something at home before you depart to take the edge off your appetite. At the party, maintain control. Just because you are served a plateful of food, you do not have to eat everything on your plate. To practice portion control in challenging situations, eat half of what you are served, push the remaining food around on your plate and have your plate taken as soon as possible. If the meal is a buffet, be selective and go through the buffet line only once. After you have eaten, leave the room that has the food and go talk with someone new. If you are hosting the party, plan to have several options of healthy foods for your guests; they will appreciate your thoughtfulness. At the end of the evening, send any irresistible food home with your guests in colorful containers as an additional holiday gift.

The third guideline is to remember that diabetes will not disappear if you ignore it. Educate yourself on how to manage your diabetes. Seek out resources to ensure that you are continually motivated and updated. Look at the American Diabetes Association Web site at for medical facts, recipes and local events. If you don't have Internet access, go to the local library to look at available books.

If you need interaction with others, there are two free local support groups that are open to the public. In Sequim, the support group meets from 10-11 a.m. the first Wednesday of the month at the Sequim Senior Activity Center. In Port Angeles, the support group meets from 7-8 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month at Olympic Medical Center, but the December meeting is canceled.

Susan Sorensen is a registered nurse who does diabetes education in the community and can be reached at

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