Halloween candy: The gateway to holiday weight gain

Dawn Holloway

Dawn Holloway

In September, stores began stocking their shelves with Halloween candy, which starts the beginning of the holiday season. We begin filling our tummies with Halloween candy, and then Thanksgiving and Christmas creep up, bringing more goodies. Before we realize it, weight gain has showed up for a holiday visit.

To keep weight gain at a minimum, remember that many candies are high in sugar and think of healthy alternatives. Alternative Halloween treats for adults and trick-or-treaters could include apples, raisins, animal crackers, sugar-free gum and low calorie snack bags that include popcorn or Goldfish. Some non-edible options for trick-or-treaters include toothbrushes, bubbles, tattoos, stickers, pencils, pads of paper, erasers and Halloween themed plastic jewelry.

Diabetes is a key reason to always watch what you eat, not just during the holidays. There has been a large increase in the number of adults, children and teens who are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

According to www.healthyamericans.org, Tennessee ranks 5th among states with the highest rate of overweight and obese children, ages 10-17 years old. More than 36 percent of 10-17 year olds are considered obese or overweight in the state. Tennessee ranks 4th in the nation for the highest rate of obese and overweight adults.

The number of children and teens who are overweight is increasing for several reasons. Many families have busy lifestyles, which sometimes leads to more consumption of fast food. Children are also becoming less active, spending a lot of time after school playing video or computer games. The number of physical education classes in the school systems also is decreasing.

According to the American Diabetes Association, 23.6 million Americans have diabetes. Almost 18 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, and 5.7 million are undiagnosed. An astounding 57 million people have pre-diabetes. This continues to change and increase daily. One upside is that we are also seeing more doctors becoming more proactive with their patients to try to prevent this.

If you think you or a family member may have type 2 diabetes, these are some symptoms of elevated blood sugar levels to watch for:

• Frequent urination

• Dry mouth/extreme thirst

• Blurred vision

• Sores or cuts that are not properly healing

• Extreme tiredness

• Extreme hunger

• Pain, numbness or tingling in the legs and feet

The good news is - there can be ways to prevent diabetes. One way is to reduce your portion sizes at meals and limit your intake of sugar and fat. Exercise also is helpful, and can have better results when combined with weight training. Walking, using a treadmill or riding a stationary bike for 30-45 minute a day, five to seven times a week, is a good way to start. Just losing 5-7 percent of your total body weight can greatly reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes.

It also is important to maintain your blood pressure and cholesterol levels within normal range, and have your blood work checked during your yearly exam with your physician.

Dawn Hollaway is a registered nurse, certified diabetes instructor and diabetes education coordinator for the Blount Memorial Diabetes Management Center.

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