Leslie Shallcross

As I concluded a recent session of Extension’s Dining with Diabetes class, a student asked whether I could address the “elephant in the room.” I wasn’t quite sure what this referred to but quickly understood that the challenge of eating healthfully during the upcoming Thanksgiving festivities was worrying. I was unprepared to answer the question and suggested getting extra physical activity. This wasn’t a bad suggestion, but I knew that this fell a bit short in reassuring the student and that this is a concern shared by many.

For most of us, holidays bring excitement about gathering with family and friends and enjoying a super-sized meal with many seasonal favorites. However, for the 122 million in the United States with diabetes or prediabetes, holiday anticipation may be tinged with anxiety about the effects that over-indulgence may have on their health. According to an American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association survey, 49% of people with type 2 diabetes experience difficulty managing their condition during the holiday season. Both hosts and their guests with diabetes can take steps to decrease holiday stress.

Leslie Shallcross is a registered dietitian and the Tanana District health, home and family development agent for Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She can be reached at 907-474-2426 or lashallcross@alaska.edu.