ALBANY, Ga. -- The holidays are stressful for everyone, but they can be more so for a diabetic.
In light of that, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital hosted a lecture as part of its regular luncheon series for employees Tuesday entitled "Managing Diabetes During the Holidays."
"Holidays can be exciting, but very stressful," said Phoebe Diabetes Educator Phyllis Vititoe. "Having family in town, among other things, is a factor that contributes to stress -- and stress impacts blood sugars."
One of the tips Vititoe gave during her presentation was to exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace for 10-15 minutes several times a day.
"You need to go at a steady pace, not stop and go," she said. "The FDA recommends 90 minutes of daily exercise. It's difficult, but that's what you need to do.
"Use exercise as a 'trade-off.' You know you'll be eating extra sweets, so walk to work off those carbs."
Because extra carbohydrates are generally consumed during holiday meals, experts also recommend checking blood sugars a little more often as well as making sure medications are taken when they are supposed to be taken.
"The tighter control you take, the better you are protecting your organs," Vititoe said. "Every minute of every hour of every day that your blood sugar is high you are damaging something.
"It's a pain, but (keeping track) is an important task."
For diabetics, a blood sugar between 60-140 is considered a healthy range, Vititoe said.
Drinking alcoholic beverages actually lowers a person's blood sugar, so diabetics are encouraged not to have more than two drinks at a holiday party.
"You also need to eat something while drinking because blood sugar can drop too low," Vititoe said.
Tuesday's event coincides with National Diabetes Awareness Month. Roughly 24 million people in the United States have diabetes, with an estimated 6 million who have not yet been diagnosed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is predicting that one-third of the population will have diabetes by 2050.