The fact that diabetes is hard on the heart is certainly no secret. It is well-documented as one of the major risk factors associated with heart disease and stroke. In fact, the risk of death from either of these events is twice as high in adults with diabetes as in those without. Meanwhile, the holiday season has also been connected to heart troubles. Between the indulgent foods and alcohol, a phenomenon known as Holiday Heart Syndrome sends increasing amounts of patients to the ER every year with symptoms such as heart palpitations. In fact, the risk of heart attack has been found to increase as much as 15 percent during the Christmas and New Year holiday seasons.
Diabetes and Holiday Heart Syndrome
This spike in holiday heart problems could be concerning for any adult, but it should be especially eye-opening for those with diabetes. If you are diabetic and considering allowing yourself to splurge this season, it is important to keep in mind that otherwise healthy individuals have a heightened risk of heart attack this time of year. Considering the hardship that is already placed on the heart of a diabetic patient, overindulging is particularly risky. Still, temptation can be tough during the holidays. So, in order to keep yourself on track and your heart strong, consider using the following techniques:
Plan Ahead for Holiday Dinners and Parties
If you are attending a holiday dinner party, try your best to learn the food options up front. If you are unsure of what may be served or know that healthy options will be limited, consider having a snack or light meal beforehand. Doing so can prevent you from eating too many unhealthy foods out of hunger and make sticking to normal, nutritious diet far easier.
Stay Physically Active During the Holiday Season
The holidays are busy for most, with days, nights, and weekends being taken up with family and friend get-togethers, shopping, decorating, and wrapping gifts. With such a hectic schedule, pushing exercise to the back burner can be far too easy, but it's a decision you are sure to regret. Regular physical activity helps maintain a healthy weight and keeps the body strong and functioning at a high level. When exercise drops off, so too do the many health benefits it brings. Additionally, it is much harder to pick back up an exercise routine following a break than it is to maintain it in the first place.
Be Mindful of Sugar and Calories in Your Alcoholic Beverages
Beverages are a sneaky way for calories and sugar to creep into our diets. We tend to pay less mind to these than we do our food, but they can add up just the same. They can also have unwanted effects on blood sugar, particularly if drinking on an empty stomach. Anyone with diabetes should keep this in mind, always drinking with food and limiting drinks to one per day for women and two per day for men.
While both the holidays and diabetes can be hard on the heart, that doesn't mean you cannot safely enjoy the season. It simply means that a little extra precaution will need to be taken. Monitor your blood sugar regularly and follow your normal diet and exercise routine as closely as possible. While some deviation is likely to occur, doing your best to maintain these schedules will keep you safe, happy, and healthy this holiday season!