Managing Depression, Diet Helps Make for Healthy Holidays

By Assemblyman Will Barclay
Studies show that depression tends to increase either during the holidays or in the weeks following the holidays. I wanted to remind you of the signs of depression and help you be able to recognize its symptoms, and where to go for help. Also, managing a healthy diet is often a challenge during holiday times, especially for those with diabetes. I’ve outlined below some good tips provided by the American Diabetes Association that I hope will help you better enjoy your holidays without sacrificing your health.

Depression: Knowing the signs

Depression is a mental illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines depression as characterized by depressed or sad mood, diminished interest in activities which used to be pleasurable, weight gain or loss, psychomotor agitation or retardation, fatigue, inappropriate guilt, difficulties concentrating, as well as recurrent thoughts of death. It can adversely affect the course and outcome of common chronic conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

The rate of major depression in New York is between 7 and 8%. Mood disorders are among the most pervasive of all mental disorders and include major depression, in which the individual commonly reports feeling sad or blue for a period of two weeks or more, uninterested in things previously of interest, psychomotor retardation or agitation, and increased or decreased appetite since the depressive episode ensued. It’s important to know the signs for yourself and for family members.

Learn more about local services by visiting the National Alliance of Mental Illness at NAMI connects people with other individuals or families who offer help and support. An administrator can be reached at 315-487-2085 or email them at [email protected]  You may also call your primary care physician for a referral for mental health services. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be called at any time of the day at 1-800-273-8255.

Eating Well in the Holiday Season

Want to enjoy the holidays and the food and still stay healthy? Planning ahead is important, especially if you have diabetes. The seven tips below can help guide you through your next holiday event from the American Diabetes Association. They are also great eating tips in general for anyone who wants to live a healthier lifestyle.

Focus on friends and family instead of food. Remember, the holidays are a time to slow down and catch up with your loved ones. Play games, volunteer, or spend time outdoors enjoying the winter weather together.

It’s a party, but don’t overdo it. Eat slowly, and really enjoy the foods that you may only have once a year. If the meal will be served near your usual meal time, try to eat the same amount of carbohydrate that you normally would for a meal. If you plan to have a portion of dessert, cut back on another carbohydrate food during the main course. Make sure your portions are reasonable and resist going back for second helpings.

Eat before you eat. Don’t skip meals or snacks earlier in the day to “save” calories and carbs for the large holiday feast later on. If you skip meals, it will be harder to keep your blood glucose in control. Also, if you arrive somewhere hungry, you will be more likely to overeat.

Bring what you like. Don’t spend time worrying about what will be served. Offer to bring your favorite diabetes-friendly dish. It could be a low-sugar or low-fat version of a favorite recipe. If you count carbs, check your recipe’s nutrition facts so you know how big a serving is and how many carbs it has.

Drink in moderation. If you drink alcohol, remember to eat something beforehand to prevent low blood glucose levels later. Whether it’s a glass of eggnog or red wine, holiday drinks can add a significant amount of calories to your holiday intake. Keep it to no more than 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men.

Stay active. One reason that we have problems managing diabetes and weight during the holidays is our lack of physical activity. Sure, the holidays are busy, but plan time into each day for exercise and don’t break your routine. Make the holidays an active time!

Off from work or school? Use this extra time to do some physical activity. Train for and participate in a local run or walk (like a local reindeer run). Start a game of pick-up football or play other games in the yard. Bundle up and go for a walk with your loved ones after eating a holiday dinner.

Offer to help clean up after a meal instead of sitting in front of leftover food. This will help you avoid snacking on it and get you moving around!

If you overindulge, get back on track. If you eat more carbs or food than you planned for, don’t think you have failed. Stop eating for the night and focus on spending the rest of your time with the people around you. Include extra exercise, monitor your blood glucose levels, and get back on track with your usual eating habits the next day.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.

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