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holiday traditions

Make the season merrier with new holiday traditions

How many of your holiday traditions exist because "we've always done it that way?" If you could choose which ones to keep or toss, what would you decide? It's okay to reconsider anything that feels like it takes up more time, money, effort or calories than it's worth.   Traditions to review: • "Must haves" at dinner. Turkey isn't hard to make, but all the things that go with it (potatoes, gravy, cranberries, stuffing) start to add up. You can enjoy family time just as much with a spiral-sliced ham served with rolls and a salad. Or try a new global cuisine each year. As much...

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Creating a Circle of Support

No one can go it alone. Whether you have diabetes or you’re a caregiver, it’s important to have a few options for emotional support. Knowing who to turn to with specific questions will make life easier. Find other people with diabetes  Few things are more comforting than talking with someone who understands you when you have diabetes, or if you are facing a type 1 or type 2 diagnosis. If you don’t already have a friend or family member with diabetes who can fill this role, seek out a diabetes support group near you. What have you got to lose? If you don’t like one group, look for another until something clicks. Another great way to find others who support people with diabetes friends is to volunteer or join fundraising events of diabetes non-for-profit groups. Join the DOC The DOC is the Diabetes Online Community, a deep well of inspiration and support, all online. There are dozens of options: message boards, private groups, social media, blogs…people with diabetes are online everywhere. You can look for private groups on social media sites like Facebook. Some popular message boards live at TuDiabetes and Children with Diabetes. Know your healthcare team You’ve worked with your healthcare providers to lay out a plan for controlling your diabetes, so don’t let all that hard work go unused. Make (and keep) regular appointments with your primary physician, and find someone like a nurse or diabetes educator you can contact whenever you have questions about your health. Enlist your child’s school If your child has diabetes, build a team of caretakers for your own peace of mind. Ask the principal to arrange a meeting between you and anyone who needs to understand your child’s diabetes needs—office workers, the school nurse, all teachers, coaches, and even transportation or field trip chaperones. The Kids and Diabetes in Schools (KiDS)  project is a valuable resource for creating a supportive environment at school. Download the information pack, which is divided into sections for teachers, parents of children with diabetes, children with diabetes, and parents in general. It’s available in 8 languages; it’s free, and can be used with any educational session you arrange with your school. The CDA also has this document about rights of kids with diabetes in school in Canada. Additionally, get a clear understanding from your doctor about how the school day should work properly, and then make sure that the school understands your child’s daily treatment needs. The school nurse is your best friend. They’ll be your biggest asset when it comes to teaching other staff at the school about how to care for your child. Above all, don’t get discouraged. Learning curves are high for the first few weeks, and that’s okay. Educate your family and friends One of the tasks that comes with living with diabetes is educating the people around you who aren’t living with it. You may feel like it’s not working, but keep educating, always speak up, and be clear about what really helps you (and what doesn’t). In time, everyone will be on the same page. And if there’s ever an emergency, they’ll know what to do.    

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To Drink Or Not To Drink: That Is The Question

Alcohol is often on the guest list at everything from family reunions to evenings with friends, but it doesn’t always mix well with diabetes. Still, unless otherwise specified by your doctor, nothing is stopping you from having a drink as long as you follow some basic guidelines. First, what effect does alcohol have? When you drink some, your liver goes into “cleaning” mode: instead of producing glucose, it works at eliminating alcohol from your system. This puts you at risk of having a low blood sugar episode which may manifest up to 24 hours later. By the way, glucagon, like certain medications, does not work when there is alcohol in your blood. Is it a good idea to have a drink? A few conditions should be met. You need to have your diabetes under control, you shouldn’t have any problems that may be exacerbated by alcohol (liver or pancreas diseases, high blood pressure, etc.), you must be able to prevent and treat low blood sugar and, just as importantly, you shouldn’t go overboard. What does moderation look like? The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends that women drink no more than two glasses a day, or a total of ten drinks in a week, and that men drink a maximum of three glasses a day or fifteen in a week. How can you drink wisely? Before drinking. Stick to your diet plan, take your medication and check your blood sugar. Prepare for low blood sugar—by bringing glucose tablets along, for example. While drinking. Eat carb-rich foods, especially if you’re engaging in physical activity (yes, dancing counts). Drink slowly and watch how much you imbibe, and dilute your drinks with non-sweet liquids such as soda water, tonic or diet soda. Light beers and dry wine are often preferable to cocktails and microbrews, which can contain more calories and alcohol. After drinking. Measure your blood sugar before going to bed and eat a snack to regulate it if it is lower than usual. If you drank a lot of alcohol, it would be wise to set an alarm for testing your blood sugar during the night. Is it frowned upon to abstain? Certainly not. Alcohol is not an obligation, nor a guarantee of fun. Whether by choice or for health reasons, it’s perfectly possible to enjoy social activities fully without drinking a drop. So, to drink or not to drink… that’s your decision!

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A matter of chocolate!

Why deny yourself the pleasure? Good for both your mood and your cardiovascular health, chocolate can very easily be integrated into your diet—as long as it’s consumed in moderation, of course. Good fats. The types of fats contained in cacao butter, such as monounsaturated fatty acids, prevent high cholesterol, which contributes to good cardiovascular health. Antioxidants. The flavonoids contained in dark chocolate help lower blood pressure by reducing the buildup of LDL (low-density lipoproteins)—bad cholesterol. Yet, you need to aim for a level below 2.0 mmol/L of LDL in your blood. Flavonoids also increase insulin sensitivity and have an anti-inflammatory effect on the heart. Quality, above all Read labels closely, because all chocolates are different. Favour products that contain higher amounts of cocoa and the lowest possible amounts of texture agents such as palm oil, as they are bad for arteries and cholesterol levels. Note that in addition to containing less sugar than milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains less sodium, and more fibre, iron, magnesium and caffeine. A natural antidepressant Eating chocolate triggers the release of dopamine and endorphins, the body’s natural opiates. It also contains trace amounts of substances like phenylethylamine—a precursor of serotonin, the key hormone of happiness. “Diabetic chocolate” Some low-sugar chocolates swap saccharose for maltitol, but they don’t always taste good. High in calories, they can also have laxative side effects. As for fructose, it should be avoided since too much of this substance raises blood levels of triglycerides, which is dangerous for your heart. In short, it might be better to treat yourself to a few squares of high-quality chocolate rather than a low-sugar, less satisfying product. By taking care to account for chocolate indulgences in your blood sugar management, you can very easily hang on to your sweet tooth!

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Couple walking on a beach laughing

Diabetes And Intimacy

When talking about diabetes management, sex remains a taboo subject. You hear a lot about risks for eyes, nerves, kidneys and the heart, but a lot less about possible problems in the bedroom—be they psychological barriers or dysfunctions. The potential inconveniences are real, but they don’t mean that you have to give up on sex. Let’s take a closer look at this topic in five points. Dialogue. It’s true that your diabetes is your own business, but communication is vital if your partner is going to understand your needs. In bed as elsewhere, being critical is useless and only results in more stress, so make sure you create a positive atmosphere. Express yourself honestly, and always feel free to set your boundaries. Nothing kills the mood like feeling misunderstood. Foresight. It helps to view sex as a form of physical activity: it can affect your blood sugar, and you certainly don’t want to experience a sudden drop in the heat of the moment. Get familiar with how your body reacts by measuring your blood sugar level before and after the act. If necessary, drink a sugary drink or take a snack to keep it at the right levels. Prevention. Diabetes can cause various problems in men (impotence, erectile dysfunction) as in women (lack of lubrication, vaginal or urinary tract infections). Be aware that many disruptive elements such as tobacco, alcohol and high blood sugar do not mix well with sex. Adopt good habits, control your blood sugar, and the odds will be on your side. Treatment. Don’t suffer from sexual disorders in silence. There’s nothing embarrassing about them, and they are absolutely treatable. In men, impotence and loss of libido due to a lack of testosterone, poor circulation or neuropathy—side effects of diabetes—usually disappear with medication. Women also have access to several solutions, medication-based or otherwise. In any case, it’s important to see a health care professional about it. The insulin pump. The decision to remove it or not during sex depends on you and your state of health. Many prefer to disconnect it for fear of the tube catching on something or getting in their partner’s way, while others keep it at all times. This is up to you, but be advised: if you remove your pump, you might see your blood sugar level rise, and if you leave it on, you’ll need to treat sex as a form of exercise and beware of going hypo. Basically, you need to stay alert! Testing your blood sugar before and after sex will show you whether or how much your blood sugar has risen while disconnected. Finally, keep in mind that diabetes does not dictate the terms of your sex life. Pay attention to how you’re feeling, watch for signs and above all, take care of yourself. The rest will come naturally.

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Put A Stop To Cravings!

People living with diabetes often think they have to ban all unhealthy foods. Yet, dealing with your cravings, rather than trying to eliminate them, is the best way to prevent possibly damaging binges. Defuse high-calorie bombs. Bored? Stressed? Cravings often arise in response to a psychological need. Outsmart them: dive into a novel, or go for a walk or run. Self-indulgence or true hunger? All you had for lunch was a green salad? It’s no surprise that your stomach is growling! Add some fibre and protein to your meals, and make sure to eat a good breakfast. Sleep and forget your hunger. When you skimp on sleep, the brain triggers the production of hunger-related hormones. And, the later you stay up, the more the body seeks to stockpile energy to sustain you until your next meal. Drink more. Thirst can also give you the impression that you’re hungry. Keep a glass of water within reach, and get up regularly to fill it up. This will lead to two good habits: drinking more water AND spending less time sitting. Get moving! Aerobic exercise improves blood and oxygen flow to the brain, particularly to the prefrontal cortex, which promotes better self-control. Research shows that the less active this brain area is, the more attracted we are to fatty and sugary foods. Strength training and yoga may also be positive reinforcements in this case. Zero tolerance? A diabetes diagnosis often sparks a crusade against sugar and calories. Thrown off, the body responds with cravings. Having the occasional treat is a way to avoid devouring an entire bag of chips out of frustration on a Saturday night after depriving yourself all week. A tip for eating in moderation: postponing what you could eat now for later. According to a study, telling yourself “maybe later” rather than completely banning a food helps you better handle your cravings. Not only did study participants succeed in resisting cravings in the moment, but they also reduced their consumption of that food in the week following the experiment. Therefore, the key is to feel free to choose what you eat and to not feel obligated to deprive yourself.

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Dating With Diabetes

So you’ve met someone, and they might be “the one!” Butterflies in the stomach are normal on first dates. They’re enough to deal with that you don’t need the anxiety of wondering when and how to broach the topic of diabetes with your new flame. Now or later? That’s up to you. Dealing with the situation immediately will take a weight off your shoulders, even if it can seem like a heavy thing to talk about at the beginning of a relationship. On the other hand, if you wait a few weeks, your significant other may feel like you weren’t open or trusting enough. What kind of attitude should you have about it? Don’t be ashamed of your diabetes: it’s a part of your life, but it doesn’t define you. The more uncomfortable you are, the more uncomfortable you risk making the other person too, so don’t make too big a deal out of it. Being yourself and having a sense of humour are your best tools here! What do you say? You don’t need to go into details about things like your medication or your mood swings when your blood sugar goes wild—leave a little mystery! Instead, let the other person ask their questions as they come. What should you expect? It’s pointless to assume your diabetes will be a problem. You’ll know soon enough how the news is received, and everything will probably be fine. If not, your budding relationship may falter, but at least you’ll know the score… and you can move on to the next encounter. And finally? If sparks are really flying between the two of you, diabetes shouldn’t change anything. Trust each other, relax, and most importantly, enjoy the good times you have together. Who knows? You may be made for each other!

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Delicious Valentine’s Day

Picture this: it’s Valentine’s Day, and all that chocolate is looking mighty fine. You’d like to enjoy a good dinner without worries—so what do you do? Never fear, here we come to the rescue. Here are three ideas to celebrate the occasion while keeping your diabetes under control. 1. This year, forget about overcrowded restaurants and prepare a five-star meal in the comfort of your home by drawing inspiration from Ricardo’s excellent recipes for people with diabetes. You’ll have peace of mind knowing what’s on your plate—and nothing beats a dinner cooked with love. 2. Create the perfect dessert with the chocolate berry parfait recipe written below! Here’s a reminder for when you’re shopping for Valentine’s Day: dark chocolate is better than white and milk chocolate as it contains antioxidants and less sugar.   Nutritional facts Serving size: ½ cup Calories: 115 Carbohydrate: 23 g Protein: 4 g Fat: 0 g Saturated fat: 0.1 g Dietary fibre: 1 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 260 mg   Ingredients 1 box (4-serving size) sugar- and fat-free chocolate pudding mix 2 cups nonfat milk ½ cup + 12 tablespoons fat-free whipped topping ¾ cup strawberries, sliced ¾ cup blueberries   Preparation 1. In a bowl, whisk together pudding mix and milk according to package directions. 2. Fold in ½ cup whipped topping. 3. In a parfait dish or martini glass, layer ¼ cup pudding, 2 tablespoons strawberries, 2 tablespoons blueberries and ¼ cup pudding. Top with 2 tablespoons whipped topping. 4. Repeat for remaining five servings. 3. Take advantage of this special day to indulge. Book a relaxing afternoon at the spa, go to the movies, take a romantic walk somewhere you like… the important thing is to have a good time!   Happy Valentine’s Day!

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