Pam Durant, Founder and Managing Director of Diapoint, and Maria Monem, Diapoint Head Nutrition Coach, share a slice of pecan pie and a coffee as they chat about navigating the holiday season with diabetes.
Pam and Maria discuss their favorite tips for managing your health and diabetes throughout holiday events and gatherings, and staying on track with diabetes despite all the temptations of celebration food and drinks.
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Maria Monem is a certified Holistic Health and Lifestyle Coach.
Maria is a Diapoint Health Coach with a background in nutrition and behavior-change coaching. She specializes in chronic disease management and prevention, helping people to create a healthy lifestyle to manage their health conditions and to achieve a great quality of life through a holistic approach. Diabetes plays a huge role in her life, both professionally and personally, as both her husband and daughter have Type 1 Diabetes.
Find Maria: www.mariamonem.com
Pam Durant is a diabetes thought leader, entrepreneur, healthcare expert and wellness coach. She is the Founder and Managing Director of Diapoint – The Place for People Touched By Diabetes.
Her successful healthcare management career was turned upside down when her 20-month-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes over a decade ago. Not only did this challenge Pam as a parent, it also challenged everything that she believed and understood about healthcare and the provider-patient relationship. As she went on to tackle the steep learning curve of diabetes to support her son to grow and thrive with this condition, she soon realized the great need for change in healthcare and in diabetes management.
She was inspired to create Diapoint, a company that focuses on people with diabetes through events, education, advocacy and products to support them.
Episode 16: Managing Your Health and Diabetes During the Holidays, with Pam Durant and Maria Monem
Hello, and welcome to Dia-Logue, the Diapoint podcast. I’m your host, Pam Durant.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to Episode 16 of Dia-logue, the Diapoint podcast. I can’t believe it’s almost the end of November when I’m recording this and December is next month. This is basically our last episode for season one, our last full discussion, we’ll have one more episode for you next week. But this week, we want to conclude with some tips and tricks or really tricks, solid tips, and things that you can do to manage diabetes and your health through the holidays. Even if you don’t have diabetes, these are very practical useful tips that you can tap into and use to maybe not over-eat or not feel so bad about the holidays when it comes to navigating parties and foods, and different feelings and different things around the holidays. Because it’s such a wonderful time of year. It’s a festive time of year. But it can also be a really challenging time of year. So we hope that that makes it easier for you.
I also like to call this The Pecan Pie Episode. Joining me for this episode once again is Maria Monem, our head coach who specializes in nutrition. And we decided to record this episode over a slice of pecan pie in my dining room. So the background noises sound a little bit different. But it was certainly a lot of fun to record in person, and some of the tips that we even use when it comes to holiday dining and planning. So I hope you find this episode helpful and useful. And throughout the month of December, we will be back in mid-February to kick off season two. So watch for that. And if we don’t speak to you before then have a lovely, wonderful rest of the year. And it is this weekend, the UAE National Day. It’s the 50th Birthday Anniversary of the Founding of the United Arab Emirates where we reside. And we are super happy and excited for the UAE and sending much love to all of our Emirati friends and the leaders of the country. Thank you for listening throughout season one, and I can’t wait to see what happens in 2022.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the final episode of Dia-Logue, the Diapoint podcast. It’s been a wonderful season. And if you’ve been with us from the beginning, thank you so much for listening. We have a very special episode planned for you today. Today, Maria Monem, our head coach at Diapoint is back with me again on the pod and we are going to talk about how to manage the holidays. Whether you have diabetes or not, people are always concerned about their health, how to manage holiday parties and this downtime or sometimes this time of overeating and festivities and what to do so we’re just going to talk a little bit about that and leave you with some tips and thoughts and ideas to help you make it through the holidays. So welcome back, Maria.
Thank you. Hi, everyone.
So let’s start with holidays. I’m going to be really honest, this morning, we did a little kind of a Diapoint meeting in my house. So that’s why we’re on location outside of my home office. I’m usually recording these in the home office. But I had my big fat American Thanksgiving dinner last week. And we have some leftover pumpkin pie and leftover pecan pie. So I thought what better way to use it than to eat it during a meeting. And I think we’ll start right there with the holiday dinners. I don’t feel bad about eating pumpkin pie and pecan pie in the morning. Because I know that my body has time to burn it off throughout the day. It’s not something that I’m going to go to bed eating a very heavy dinner. It’s not something I would eat every day. And I do consider it in the context of my daily calorie and carb intake and everything. But that’s what I had for breakfast today.
And me too actually. I have been very good though. I went to the gym in the morning. I had a boxing class. So I feel like it’s okay, I can have a treat. It’s not every day, so it’s fine.
Exactly. It’s not every day, I ran the dog this morning. We ran for about 30 minutes. I don’t know, because he stops a lot because he’s a dog. And that’s what they do. But I think this highlights two very important points: the timing of your meals if you can control it, and also increased activity during the holidays. We should all really stay active. So I think that’s one thing to be mindful of. During this time, a lot of people, what happens is the end of the year, and if you’re working or it’s the end of the year, so you’ve got to close things out at work. If you have children, it’s the end of the year with school ending and a lot of, you know, class parties and preparations for year-end celebrations, it can feel overwhelming to find time for yourself to exercise. And also with travel. Now, we know that’s a little tricky one, in these times with COVID. But if you’re travelling as well, that can feel a little stressful, and then you may not have enough time to or feel like you have enough time to exercise. Any thoughts on how to make more time for exercise during the holidays?
Yeah, I think it’s important that people first of all, not see the holiday as an excuse to let go of everything and completely go crazy. And to sort of try to stay to their routine as much as possible, both from their diet, but also from activities. And I think the holiday is a perfect time to do things with your family. I mean, you can do things together, you can go for a walk, you can, I don’t know, go for a swim, do whatever, wherever you are, obviously getting divided can still swim. But yeah, just to do things together. Or if you can, maybe a little yoga, you can do things at home, you can go to the gym, just to sort of try to not go crazy.
Yeah, that’s true. The weather here is pretty amazing. And so it’s the perfect time to take advantage of it. If you have kids, get them outside. If you have a dog, get them outside, or even if you don’t have one, go for a walk. When I’m walking I sometimes like to listen to podcasts or books or music that I enjoy. Just to make it different, but sometimes not listening. And just being in nature and listening to the birds or the beach, or wherever you’re walking is a good thing, too. So at this time of year, a lot of us as things slowly open might be getting invited to a lot of parties, or maybe sometimes cocktails in different meetings that tend to have a lot of food and drink around them. Maria, what are your thoughts on those and how to manage parties?
Well, I think that’s first of all, you have to sort of remember what your goals are. First of all, if you have a condition, maybe you’re managing or if it’s for weight loss purposes, or whatever, I think a lot of people get quite stressed over the holidays. And from an eating point of view, I think, stick as much as you can to your normal routine. Have if you want to have treats and stuff, of course, it’s holidays, we will always want to have something but don’t go all in like still try to stay in control and maybe you know, have your high protein breakfast and load up on fiber, maybe have a healthy afternoon snack. If you are going to parties, maybe try to have something before you go to the party, so you’re not starving. And of course, the key for anything, of course, is to never let yourself, don’t allow yourself to go so hungry that you might make bad choices.
That’s actually one of my favorite tips. A friend of mine told me that a few years ago, like before holiday parties, she would eat something really healthy and filling that had a lot of fiber. And when I started doing that I ate so much better at any type of gathering, not even just during the holidays, because usually what would happen I’d be so hungry when I get there. And then sometimes the only thing that’s offered is bad things like a bag of potato chips or crisps or whatever. And you know, different things like that. And then also if you do drink alcohol, that can stimulate your appetite. And you can sometimes lose that sense of how full you are or not. And you might overeat and then tend to eat or maybe make not, you know such great food choices. So I’ve also found that eating something healthy before I go really, really does help. What is that? That could, it depends on what that is for you. It could be a salad. Sometimes I’ll make a protein smoothie. I really enjoy smoothies. It could be some yoghurts and fruit could be anything really, as long as it’s, think of it as a healthy snack. And then you’ll be full and you won’t be so tempted by all the other foods that are there.
Yeah. And then if you still want to have a treat, like be really mindful and take a time to enjoy that treat.
Yeah, that’s true. Because sometimes we’ll see it and it looks so great. And we’re so busy talking to someone and we don’t even realize what we just ate and we can’t even enjoy it.
Yeah, have you heard about the crowding out method?
So crowding out method is basically that, instead of thinking about what to not eat, you kind of, you start introducing healthy foods. So you could for example, start off with salads or, you know, little appetizers, but healthy stuff. So then by the time you have done eating all of that you’re not so hungry anymore so that you will go for the bad stuff. So it’s like, yeah just crowding out the bad stuff, and sort of introducing more of the good stuff.
Amazing. I like that. I’ve never heard of it in that context before. That’s a great idea.
And yeah, don’t drink your calories.
Yeah, as Maria just takes a sip of water. Exactly. That’s true, drink a lot of water. Like we mentioned before, you know, there’s, there’s alcohol and there’s many reasons to not drink too much of it. Many people listening to this podcast may not drink at all, and that’s wonderful. If you do, it does have a lot of calories, it can be high in calories. Some people like to space it out with glasses of water in between, or sparkling water. Sometimes I’ll drink sparkling water and you know, with lemon and ice or something, it just feels fancy.
Yeah, that’s a good…
That’s also really filling and it’s refreshing at the same time, if you’re tired of just plain water, that can be another option. But really watch it. And I find that also the way, if I’m drinking wine to be honest, or grape, as they call it here, I don’t think my body metabolizes it quite in the same way, I have to drink a lot more water than usual to really feel, you know, okay about it. It’s just not making me feel so great. So if it affects you, in a negative way, think, you know, try to remember what you might feel like the next day. And that might be a deterrent to maybe not participate in as much as you usually do, maybe, but definitely drink a lot of water.
Yeah, and also maybe see the holidays sort of as it’s one day, it’s not a whole month of going crazy or indulging.
That’s true. Like yeah, when it’s not the holiday as we usually eat healthy most of the time. And then maybe one day a week, we might have what some people refer to as cheat days. Or you might have a dinner that you go to where you’re eating, you know, something that you wouldn’t normally eat, or like as Maria just looked over, you might be coming to a breakfast meeting where you might have a pecan pie. We’re not eating pecan pie for breakfast every day, only from time to time. I honestly only make pecan pie once a year, or when my friends’ kids come back home to Dubai because a lot of them are at university. Now I’ll make them a pecan pie because they can’t be here for Thanksgiving. Because they’re not travelling. So I make it and I give it away. That brings me a lot of joy – to give people food makes me happy. On recipes. If you’re cooking for the holidays, I always, at least halve – if not more – halve the sugar. In a recipe, there is no need for one or two cups of sugar in any recipe I find usually. And a lot of people use sugar substitutes like monkfruit or other things that are really good for cooking, that are zero calorie or in zero carb and that will make your dishes much more healthy. If you have diabetes, there’s a few things that you can do also to help manage your blood sugar during the holidays. And in addition to some of the eating tips and food tips that we gave you, I think it’s really important to check your blood sugar more frequently, if you’re not checking frequently already, or if you’re not using a CGM, a continuous glucose monitor. Because if you’re checking, then you’ll better know if something you ate maybe had more sugar in it than you expected or you’re having high blood sugars, and then you’ll be able to correct those much more quickly. So please check your blood sugar regularly, if not more than usual if you need to.
…as they’ll consider you know, portion control a little bit. And maybe you know, you can always wait for 20 minutes. So once you had the first serving for example, you can wait for 20 minutes before you go in for a second helping just to get your you know, the food to go in and stuff.
Yeah, make sure that you feel full and that when you feel full that you’re still not eating.
Yeah, that you stop. Exactly. So when you feel full you stop eating. And of course you can always have leftovers the day after, so it’s not your last meal. It’s not your last Christmas. It’s not your last holiday so you don’t have to go crazy on that first day.
I think I’ve said crazy like 10 times now.
It’s okay, that’s okay. You can say crazy. No, it’s a crazy time.
And the other thing that you can also do is load, if it’s a dinner, load your plate up with vegetables, there’s so many amazing holiday dishes that are plant based and you know I’m a big fan of plants and eating fruits and vegetables and I’m not saying you need to become a vegetarian or vegan during the holidays, there is no one size fits all. But we’ve talked before, about the healthy plate. And that link I think is actually even in the podcast notes of the previous episode that Maria and I did where you can see, and we’ll put the link again in these in the podcast notes for this episode. But you can see the majority of that plate are fruits and vegetables.
Yes. And also it doesn’t have that, don’t think about it, as you know, cold vegetables or salad, it can actually be grilled vegetables with a really nice vinaigrette or some sort of dressing or, you know, be creative and try new recipes.
Exactly. It’s a great time to try new recipes. I do that with a lot of the things that I always cook. So last year, for example, last year, I tried a new recipe for the holidays, and I made a mushroom Wellington.
Wow. Like so instead of a beef Wellington, you use mushroom?
Exactly. I personally don’t like beef, and I don’t really cook it a lot. I don’t enjoy it. And I wanted people when they came to my holiday dinner to have an option. We had turkey. Turkey’s considered a fairly lean meat a lot of the time but I wanted to experiment with more plant based options. So I found this beautiful recipe online for a Mushroom Wellington. And it looked really complicated because it had a lot of steps and had portobello mushrooms and other mushrooms. It was amazing. I love it. I’ll make it for you one day.
That sounds delicious.
The next podcast we record!
And I love mushrooms so that would be amazing.
Okay, so then you must come over for dinner for Mushroom Wellington.
Oh, so what do you actually eat for Christmas? Are we talking about Christmas?
For Christmas? Yeah, Christmas or Thanksgiving or anything. It’s very similar. Usually it’s Turkey. I don’t cook Turkey any other time of year except Thanksgiving and Christmas. We did have a little bit of beef because honestly speaking my husband, my son; they love beef. We eat plant based most of the time, but on special occasions, we have meat from time to time. And you know, my husband is Turkish. So there’s a lot of good Turkish kebab to be eaten. He’s not turning, you know, plant based anytime soon. But he himself even came home one day a couple weeks ago and said, Hey, we should do more plant based options. And I’m like, we do a lot of plant based options because I’m not cooking meat at home. But my holiday dinners are usually turkey, I stuff my turkey, I try not to do everything so carb loaded. There are rice dishes. But for example, the last stuffing that I made was with wild rice, which has a much much lower glycemic index than regular white rice. So you can change a lot of ingredients in your recipes and make them healthy.
Amazing. Well, we are going to Sweden this Christmas. So we have a proper smorgasbord with loads of stuff. So it’s gonna be interesting to navigate that.
What kind of stuff?
Oh my god, we have pies. We don’t have a turkey. We’re gonna have a big ham. And then we’d have salmon and cold cuts and fish and it’s just a mix of absolutely everything. Little sausages and meatballs, and you name it. It’s so much stuff but it’s a lot of protein. So that’s good. So I don’t eat a lot of carbs, but I try not to eat a lot of carbs. So yeah, it’s gonna be really nice. We’ll see how it goes.
I’ve been to Sweden before. The people are absolutely beautiful. And I didn’t really see anybody that looked unhealthy to me. So…
My kids are going to have a bit of a shock here because it’s going to be so cold so we have to go shopping for winter stuff now. So it’s gonna be interesting.
Of course, when you change Time Zones there can be a challenge with blood sugar. You’ll find your blood sugar might be off. But with cold weather or with anything around travel, do you find other challenges with diabetes and blood sugar?
So every summer we go to Sweden, so we haven’t been to Sweden in the winter. Well, we have but it was years ago. And every summer her blood sugar becomes really good and stable for some reason. I don’t know if it’s because she’s outside, very active every day. She’s outside and they’re just playing around in the garden. I mean we hardly feel that we have diabetes, so it’s really good. She always has amazing blood sugar when we’re in Sweden.
Amazing that probably is, and the days in Sweden in the summer are quite long.
Especially where we are, we are right up in the north.
Wow, amazing. So you’re even more active. Oh, that’s beautiful. I hope you experienced the same this year too.
Good. One more thing about eating that I want to mention, we talked about planning, eating smaller portions and different things and during the holidays also, you may not always have control over the timing of your meals because you’ll be invited to different events at different times. And for me, I find that if it’s going to be early or late, then I kind of tend to change the timing, and also the portions of what I’m eating throughout my day before this event or other thing I have to go to. Or if it’s like a brunch, if the brunch is so big, and I feel really full after I won’t definitely won’t have lunch, I won’t have dinner and I might have a snack in the evening, if I feel hungry, it would be like a healthy snack. And that’s what we do for my son as well.
We also try, we avoid brunches full stop, because it’s just it goes crazy. And both my husband has diabetes and my daughter, so it’s not good for them. So we just try to stick to the sort of smaller, smaller portions, or, yeah, we choose a meal. And that’s it.
Yeah. And if you are going to a brunch or something like that, that’s going to be happening over a long time, then try to remember the reason why you’re there is to visit and socialize, be with friends and family. And it’s not necessarily about the eating, that’s a part of it. But let’s say if it goes on for four hours, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be eating nonstop for four hours.
Yeah, I think that’s a good point to remember why we’re there, that we are sort of, these holidays are about being together and joy and peace and all of that. And I think a lot of people get really, really stressed over the holidays, because it’s so much to think about, there’s maybe a lot of parties and things and people just tend to strive for perfection. And then when that’s not happening, they just get more and more stressed. And then they put themselves in a state where it’s not so enjoyable anymore. And you know, holidays is about, it’s meant to be enjoyable for everybody, even for the host.
Yes, true. It should be, it should be that’s really true. When it comes down to stress. So what are some tips that you have for managing stress for the holidays?
I would say just to allow yourself to take some time out, you know, maybe do some meditation breathing exercises, go and read a book, like allow yourself to go away from the stress or from the event that is making you stressed.
Take time out.
Go for a walk, take a breather. That’s my advice.
Yeah, I think that’s really good advice. I know I love, like I said, I love cooking for people and preparing food. But even on the day, I was having people over, the dog needed to go for a walk. So I took a break a few hours before and I took him for a walk. And it was kind of good just to get out of the you know, stress of worrying about the last minute details and everything like this. So yeah, don’t stop your regular exercise, even if you’re not doing it as frequently as you usually might, but still continue to exercise.
Yeah. So the mindset is really important, that you don’t think about, you know, I’m going to have these holidays now. And I’m going to go all in and I’m not going to care about anything else. I’m going to eat and have whatever I want. And then you say you think oh, you know, on the first of January, I’m gonna start my new life. It doesn’t really work like that. It shouldn’t be like that. It should be that you just stay in control and have that balance. And yeah.
And a lot of you, I think, probably know listening to this, how many times have you set a new year’s resolution, and then you didn’t follow through? We’ve all done it. We all know that the same things that felt challenging or difficult, back at the end of November, feel kind of the same, if not bigger, in January. And if we ignore them throughout the month of December, it doesn’t get any easier in January and then come mid-January, early February, we’re kind of feeling let down because the resolutions became more difficult. So it’s better to have a plan throughout the month of December, and set some mini goals for yourself.
And also what you can do that we mentioned also in our November challenge, if you set some goals, get an accountability partner, maybe a close friend, could be a family member, if that feels comfortable. Some people like to put their goals on social media, we’re not suggesting you do that because you don’t need to declare it to everybody. But just find some accountability to make sure that you get through the month of December in a really healthy way and maybe find yourself an accountability partner, a friend or a coach. If that is right for you.
If you want to learn more about our coaching services, of course reach out to us. But first I would say, plan to listen to some of the tips that we’ve suggested. They’ll all be in the show notes as well. And if you have diabetes, please remember that diabetes does not have a holiday, we all know that. People living with diabetes or people who love someone that has diabetes, we know it’s every day, it’s all day, it’s 24/7. And if you take care of it, then I don’t want to say diabetes will take care of you, because even on the days where you do take care of it, sometimes you might find it challenging. But do your best to take care of it.
And support yourself. Give yourself a lot of grace and love throughout the holidays. And if you do maybe have a day or you go to a holiday event, and maybe you don’t feel like you managed as well as you would have liked to, don’t beat yourself up about it. Tomorrow is another day where you can start fresh, every day is a fresh day. And I don’t want anyone beating themselves up because they think that they overeat at a party or you know, you’re not completely defeated for the rest of the year or the rest of the rest of your life. Just move on.
Yeah. And don’t forget to take time out if you feel stressed, and go for a nap. We didn’t talk about sleep. Sleep is important too.
Sleep is the most important thing.
Exactly. And if it’s the holidays, take every opportunity. Every opportunity you can, go for a little rest.
Yeah, you know, if you have kids, and you don’t have to do that school run in the afternoon, maybe take a nap? You know, maybe if you’re working this might sound hokey. If you have an office, close your door and meditate for five minutes. If you attended my webinar for the Diapoint November challenge that we did, then you’ll know in that webinar that I said sleep is actually the most important thing after eating well, taking care of your diabetes and drinking water that we can do for our health. Sleep affects everything. If you’re sleeping well, your blood sugar will be better. If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll lose weight. If you sleep well, I’ve experienced this myself. If you’re sleeping well you make better choices. You don’t feel overwhelmed, and you’ll feel less stressed sleeping is the key.
Yeah, I totally agree.
So I think that brings our discussion about tips during the holidays to a close. And again, thank you all so much for listening to the podcast throughout this last season. We really appreciate it. And the podcast will be back in mid-February, with new guests and new topics. If there’s a topic that you’re curious about, please let us know. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you need anything or have any questions about anything that we discussed during this podcast, please also reach out to us on the same email. And thank you so much, Maria, for joining me today.
Thank you for having me. Hopefully I’ll see you again next year.
Definitely, and safe travels.
Talk to you soon.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the podcast where Maria and I discussed some tips and tricks to get through the holidays that are happening throughout the next month. It’s a very busy time of year for everyone. And I hope you have a wonderful time with your friends and families. Thank you so much for listening. If you’ve been enjoying the podcast and you don’t want to miss a future episode, please go to iTunes, Spotify or anywhere that you listen to podcasts and subscribe. Leave us a comment or leave us a review. It helps us to keep doing what we’re doing, or share it on social media or with a friend. Thank you so much. We really appreciate your support.
Show Notes and Links
Disclaimer: It should go without saying that the Diapoint podcast is not intended as or should not be used as personal medical advice. You will hear us interview medical experts and others, but please always always ask your qualified doctor, diabetes team or other expert about your health. What works for one person does not always work for another person. What you should always do when you discover any new health information is ask YOUR doctor about it. This information should empower you to have a discussion with your healthcare providers about it. Diapoint, our guests, sponsors and business partners are not here to replace that advice. Living a full, healthy life means taking the proper medical advice from your qualified physicians, diabetes team or other healthcare providers.
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Here at Dia-logue: The Diapoint Podcast, we talk to experts and people living with diabetes about social situations, nutrition, mental health, travel, and many other topics related to health and wellness.
The Founder & Managing Director of Diapoint, Pam Durant, shares her experience as the mother a teenage son who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 20 months old.
Pam was also a healthcare manager for 25+ years, and is a certified Wellness and Lifestyle Medicine coach. She is passionate about showing people how to not just survive, but thrive.
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