• Judith Wallace

Diabetes and the Holidays

It's the season for celebrations with family and friends and that means food - lot's of food. If you have diabetes or have been told you have pre-diabetes, this can be a challenge managing blood sugar. Now that many people are traveling again, temptations are everywhere, and the holiday festivities can disrupt daily routines. What's more, it all goes on for weeks.

How do you stick to your diabetes meal plan when there are food temptations everywhere? Here are some suggestions to help.

1. Make a Holiday Plan

You may not be able to control the menu, but you can take some pro-active steps.

  • Eat close to your usual times to keep your blood sugar steady. If your meal is served later than normal, eat a small snack at your usual mealtime and eat a little less when dinner is served.

  • Invited to a party? Offer to bring a healthy dish along.

  • If you have a sweet treat, cut back on other carbs (like potatoes and bread) during the meal.

  • Don't skip meals to save up for a feast. It will be harder to keep your blood sugar in control, and you'll be really hungry and more likely to overeat.

  • Make calculated choices: for example, pumpkin pie has at least 1/3 less calories than pecan pie. Think about choices and options in advance.

  • If you slip up, get right back to healthy eating with your next meal.

  • Make time to include daily physical activities even if you have to break them up into smaller segments to fit your holiday schedule. Activity is critical for balancing your blood sugar.

2. Outsmart the Buffet

When you face a spread of delicious holiday food, make healthy choices easier:

  • Have a small plate of the foods you like best and then move away from the buffet table.

  • Start with vegetables to take the edge off your appetite.

  • Eat slowly. It takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to realize you're full.

  • Avoid or limit alcohol. If you do have an alcoholic drink, have it with food. Alcohol can lower blood sugar and interact with diabetes medicines.

Also, plan to stay on top of your blood sugar. Check it more often during the holidays, and if you take medicine, ask your doctor if the amount needs to be adjusted.

3. Keep Moving

You've got a lot on your plate this time of year, and physical activity can get crowded out. But being active is your secret holiday weapon; it can help make up for eating more than usual and reduce stress during this most stressful time of year. Get moving with friends and family, such as taking a walk after a holiday meal.

4. Get Your Rest

Going out more and staying out later often means cutting back on sleep. Sleep loss can make it harder to control your blood sugar, and when you're sleep deprived you'll tend to eat more and prefer high-fat, high-sugar food. Aim for 7 to 8 hours per night to guard against mindless eating.

5. Keep Your Holiday Safe

Remember that COVID is still out there. Be aware and cautious at large indoor gatherings, especially if the room is crowded and you aren't sure that everyone is vaccinated. Even if you are vaccinated, perhaps you should wear a mask. Make careful decisions.

Most of all, remember what the season is about - connecting with family and friends to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.

Be Well!

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