For most people, overeating and drinking at holiday parties will just result in weight gain. However, for millions of others who do not know they have type 2 diabetes, it could mean something much more serious.

“As tempting and tasty as it might be, eating high fat foods with excess calories, carbohydrates and salt will put people who don’t know they have the disease at great risk,” said Dr. Dale J. Hamilton, an endocrinologist and diabetes specialist with The Methodist Hospital in Houston. “The most common cause of death from type 2 diabetes is heart disease and stroke.”

Some of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes include frequent urination (especially at night), thirst, weight loss (despite eating more food), fatigue, blurred vision, and a high blood sugar level.

“The high blood sugar weakens the immune system so a person might catch a cold that they cannot shake or develop an infection that doesn’t heal,” Hamilton said. “I recommend checking your blood sugar frequently with a device that can be purchased at your local pharmacy. If you are between 126 and 200 mg/dL you are at risk for type 2 diabetes.”

Hamilton suggests limiting carbohydrates including white bread, white rice, potatoes, pasta, etc. as well as cured meats such as ham and smoked turkey that contain high levels of salt. When mixed with other rich foods, these types of offerings can put a strain on the heart and raise one’s blood pressure which can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath and heart failure.

“If you know you are going to eat one big meal with your family or friends, reducing the number of calories the meals before and after will help,” Hamilton said. “Being aware of what you are eating will not only give you a chance at a happy holiday season, but a happy 2011 and beyond.”

Source: Methodist Hospital, Houston, Press Release

Originally posted by on December 27, 2010.