Eat, drink and stay healthy: tips to help navigate the holidays with diabetes

Living with diabetes is never easy but during the holidays, managing things can become even more challenging. Party hosts serve carb-heavy foods and drinks and every get-together seems to be punctuated with cookies, candy and temptations that can make the happiest time of the year more stressful. Like throughout the year, the need for conscious healthy choices to keep carbohydrates at a manageable level is important, but that doesn’t mean you can’t partake in the spirit of the season. With small modifications and a bit planning, you can eat, drink—and stay healthy all season long.

Plan ahead. A bit of simple planning can make a huge difference during this busy time of year. Eat a healthy meal before going to a party. If you’re attending a potluck or get-together, bring a diabetic-friendly dish that you can enjoy. With so many people watching carbs and calories, odds are others will be grateful, too.

Limit or avoid alcohol. That holiday cocktail can raise your blood sugar and possibly interact with your medications. It’s best to skip alcohol entirely, but if you choose to raise a glass limit yourself to one drink. Don’t drink on an empty stomach and remember that alcohol consumption can impair decision-making and impact your ability to make informed food choices.

Test yourself. This is probably the most important time of year to monitor your diabetes. Check your blood sugars regularly. It can be easy to make a bunch of small choices that seem harmless but together can drive your numbers up. By routinely testing, you are aware of what’s happening with your sugars and are more likely to keep your diabetes—and health—in check.

Take a long winter’s nap! It’s a season full of added expectations, responsibilities and pressure—from others and self-imposed. Too often, people sacrifice sleep to check items off of their lists. Decreased sleep is a risk factor for increased blood sugar. Sleep deprivation also impacts the hormones in your body and creates a tendency to seek out high-sugar, high-fat foods. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep nightly to better stable blood sugar and help guard against mindless eating.

Walk in a winter wonderland, jingle bell hop—or get moving however you can! Exercise is always important to manage diabetes, and it’s the perfect time to combine holiday fun and exercise. Take a hike in the woods or stroll through new neighborhoods to check out the holiday décor. Ice skating and sledding are fun for all ages and great for burning calories. Make moving fun and create memories the entire family will enjoy.

Don’t let a lapse become catastrophic. Maybe you had a cookie you didn’t plan on eating. Okay, maybe you had a plate of cookies. It happens to the best of us. No matter what, it’s always the perfect time to start over. Get back to planning right away, continue to monitor your levels and move forward!

The holidays will come and go, but your health is more important than any gift or obligation on your list. With a bit of planning and awareness, you can manage your diabetes and enjoy the fun of season. So, let your heart be light—and please take care of yourself. Like always, if you need help managing your diabetes, we’re right here. 

For any questions about managing your diabetes this holiday season, please reach out to Denise Graves, RDN at 870-845-6935 or visit our diabetes education page for more information.

Posted in:  Health