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JIS News

Health officials are recommending that diabetics do not overindulge in foods high in fat and sugar content over the festive season, as this could have negative effects on their health in the short term.
The recommendation comes in light of the plethora of traditional Christmas foods, such as sorrel and Christmas cake and pudding as well as other sumptuous offerings, available at office parties, family gatherings and various other functions, where diabetics might be tempted to toss caution aside.
Speaking to JIS News, Violet Griffith, Programme Development Officer for Chronic Diseases in the Ministry of Health, said that while diabetics could enjoy the festivities and food, moderation was the key to maintaining their health.
“Do not overeat or your body is going to pay for it in some way. Say no to excess,” she warned.She is urging diabetics to make food substitutions whenever possible in order to reduce sugar intake.
For instance, in the case of Christmas cake and pudding, Ms. Griffith advised that the cakes be made with alternative sweeteners instead of regular table sugar. This, she added, would have fewer calories for the person with diabetes.
However, she clarified that fewer calories would be just from the sugar, as the cake contains other ingredients high in calories, including the flour, eggs, butter and breadcrumbs.
Substituting cake for fresh fruit, as desert, was another suggestion put forward by Ms. Griffith.
On the matter of preparing food, she said that this was very important, while imploring diabetics to cook less fried food. “More baking, roasting, grilling rather than frying because when you fry, you introduce added calories, so at the end of the season, people will tell you that you have gained a lot of weight,” she said.
“There are simply no magic foods for persons living with diabetes but they just have to pay attention to portion sizes and not over indulge,” she continued.
In the event that diabetics overeat, Ms. Griffith recommended that they could rectify this by eating a little less at the next meal and also increase their activity level, so that they can burn off the excess calories that would come from the foods they eat.”Extra calories mean extra work in terms of activity level in order to balance and not gain weight,” she explained.
Ms. Griffith also urged diabetics to get into the habit of reading food labels to discern the serving size and calorie content in order not to overeat.
As for diabetics who also suffer from hypertension, the Programme Development Officer said they should avoid an excess intake of foods containing sodium. “Sodium is found in table salt and a lot of the food that are preserved such as ham. You should eat less of this because there is a direct link between sodium and hypertension,” she informed.
Figures available from the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) revealed that of the 1,755 persons who died from complications associated with diabetes mellitus in 2002, 927 were female.