(ARA) Turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry and pumpkin pie will be on the menus at a lot of holiday parties this year, but not everyone will be able to enjoy these traditional holiday treats. People who have diabetes — a disorder of the metabolism, in which their body has trouble converting food into energy — must pay close attention to everything they eat. Their bodies do not have the mechanisms necessary to properly regulate their blood sugar levels.

Diabetes affects about 17 million Americans so chances are good someone who has the illness will attend your next holiday party. Since you don’t want anyone to feel left out, here are some tips to help you get through the party planning season:

* For the main meal, offer your guests variety. Have fish, poultry and lean cuts of beef, veal or pork available so there will be something for everyone. Remove the skin — which is high in fat — from poultry. This will benefit not only diabetics, but everyone at your party.

* Instead of creamy mashed potatoes, which are high in carbohydrates, offer a variety of grains and fresh vegetables for side dishes. Those items are all on the Diabetic Food Pyramid and good for everyone. Keep in mind, basic foods are always the safest. Avoid sauces, and casseroles, especially those with cheese and cream sauces.

* For dessert, provide your guests with healthy, low-carb alternatives to the sweet holiday treats. Put out platters with bagel chips, pretzels, low fat crackers, raw fruits and vegetables.

“People with diabetes must avoid foods high in carbohydrates because they send the body’s blood sugar levels soaring,” says Gary Janson, president of American Medical Supply, a Florida-based diabetic supplies company that serves clients in all 50 states. “When you eat, your body breaks down all carbohydrates, and some portion of proteins, into a sugar substance called glucose. The hormone, insulin, directs glucose to enter the cells, creating energy.”

In a regular, healthy person, the body carefully monitors the amount of sugar which is circulated in the blood and removes it when high levels are detected. Diabetics’ bodies either produce inadequate levels of insulin or none at all, so their blood sugar level is chronically high. Over time, patients with diabetes can develop such complications as blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, heart disease, stroke, increased risk of infections or even amputations.

During the holidays, especially, when temptation is great, it’s a good idea for people who have diabetes to regularly check their blood sugar levels. The cost of testing supplies can exceed $1,200 a year for someone who tests their blood sugar three times a day. While Medicare and most third party insurers cover some of the cost, patients can incur substantial out-of-pocket expenses while waiting for insurance reimbursement. To help patients avoid this expense, companies such as American Medical Supplies specialize in taking the hassle out of ordering and paying for supplies by billing insurance providers and Medicare directly, with no upfront cost to the patient.

For more information or to register with American Medical Supplies, call (800) 856-7999 or go online at www.AmericanDiabetic.com.

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