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Summer Festivities and Managing Diabetes

Summer is in full swing and so are family reunions, barbecues and holiday parties with lots of food! However, these get-togethers can be challenging for the 16 million Americans with diabetes who need to control their diet to manage their disease.

This summer, the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) is providing ideas for people with diabetes and their loved ones for making this a healthy summer for everyone to enjoy.

Choosing healthy foods is critical in managing diabetes, for example, research shows people with diabetes may delay or prevent serious complications by keeping their blood sugar in the normal range. This means following a meal plan to control blood sugar levels, getting regular physical activity, taking prescribed medications and testing blood sugar levels on a regular basis.

With Labor day parties and barbecues quickly approaching diabetics can incorporate these helpful tips from NDEP to help stay in control at this summer's family gatherings.

  • Have a plan for what, when and how much you will eat.
  • Eat - low-calorie snack before you leave home, so you don't arrive at the party hungry.
  • Bring your favorite healthy dish so you are guaranteed to have at least one thing you'll enjoy.
  • Eat slowly to reduce your chances of overeating.
  • Drink water — the healthy, no-calorie beverage.
  • Discuss your diabetes control plan with your friends and family members so they can help you.

NDEP also suggests loved ones of people with diabetes support their family members through the challenges of summer festivities. NDEP offers some recommends:

  • Offer a variety of low fat, high fiber foods on the buffet table — serve fresh fruits and vegetables, grilled lean meats, fish and chicken without the skin. Increase fiber with whole grain breads, beans, peas and salads.
  • Transform traditionally high fat and high calorie foods into low fat healthier versions.
  • Incorporate exercise into your family gathering — get people moving — plan physically active games and activities. Dancing, potato sack races, volleyball, softball or a nature walk are activities the whole family can enjoy.
  • Be supportive of your family members with diabetes by encouraging them, not chastising them.

For more information on planning healthy family reunions or other summer gatherings, visit the National Diabetes Education Program's Website at

Copyright 1999 Health Resources Publishing

© 2000 Health Resources Publishing