HOUSTON (November 23, 2015)

November is American Diabetes Month, which recognizes one of the country’s most prevalent diseases. It also coincides with the beginning of the holiday party season and the sometimes hearty and unhealthy food and drink that comes with it.

The oh-so-tasty and oh-so-unhealthy food options readily available at most holiday parties, family holiday dinners, office soirees and potlucks are common this time of year. The joys of sugary desserts and treats, buttery family dishes and fattening appetizers typically continue until collective New Year’s resolutions are made to eat healthier.

Unhealthy eating habits and excessive weight are major contributors to diabetes and prediabetes, which affect an estimated 116 million adults and children in the United States. The temptation to stray from healthy eating practices at parties is strong for everyone. It is especially important for diabetics to stay the course because of the affect diet has on blood glucose levels.

Minesh Desai, DO, a Memorial Hermann Medical Group internist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital, has some helpful tips for diabetics and non-diabetics to maintain their weight and a healthy diet while still partaking in the universal holiday party tradition of eating:

Just 10 more minutes

Extend your workouts by 10 minutes. Start now. This will help balance out any splurges.


Eat a healthy snack and drink a glass of water prior to the party to avoid overeating.

Know the menu

Ask what food will be served so you can see how it fits into your meal plan.

Enjoy the atmosphere

Focus on friends, family, and activities instead of the food.

Pace yourself

Eat slowly and in moderation. Don’t go back for seconds.

Choose wisely

Choose low-calorie drinks such as water or unsweetened tea. If you choose to drink alcohol, drink in moderation and preferably with meals. If the party starts with drinks, eat something beforehand to avoid drops in your blood glucose levels. Remember, current diabetes guidelines limit alcohol to one drink for women and two drinks for men.

Go natural

Select fruit instead of pies, cakes and other desserts. If you followed rule No. 1 (Just 10 more minutes), you have some room to enjoy here.

Keep moving

Stay active by taking a walk after the meal, helping to clean up, or by dancing at the party. You’ll score extra points if you do all three.