Holiday Food Habits

It has long been the view of many Americans, especially those with diabetes and other conditions that may present dietary restrictions, that December is the hardest month to stick to dietary guidelines. With so many parties and gatherings, and so many sweet and rich temptations in abundant supply, many people find it difficult to resist the season’s offerings. And according to the results of a recent survey, an increasing number of people aren’t even putting up a fight.


According to a CNN/ORC International Poll released late last month, 53% of respondents said they would eat whatever they want during the holiday season because it’s a special time of year. That’s a gain over the 47% of respondents who gave this answer in 2006, and the same number seen in 1996. The age group most likely to indulge was 18- to 34-year-olds, 64% of whom said they didn’t watch their diet during the season; adults age 65 and older were least likely to indulge, at 40%. Among men, 57% gave this answer, while only 49% of women did.

This survey also asked respondents questions about their political affiliation and where they lived, with some interesting results. Republicans and Midwesterners were the groups most likely to try to limit excess eating during the holiday season (41% of each group), while Democrats and rural residents were the least likely to try to set limits (31% of each group). Among all respondents, 23% said they were “very likely” to go on a healthy diet after the holidays, while 38% said they definitely would not. Rural residents were most likely to dismiss the idea of a post-holidays health kick (45%), and adults age 65 and over were also dismissive (43%). Among those most likely to adopt a healthy diet after the holidays were urban residents (30%), 35- to 49-year-olds (27%), as well as Democrats and Southerners (26% of each group).

What’s your position on eating treats during the holidays — do you avoid certain foods completely, or indulge but limit portion sizes? Do you try to avoid or limit the number of events you attend where unhealthy treats are likely to be available? If you belong to one of the groups mentioned above, do you have any theory to explain how its members responded to the survey? Should everyone with diabetes strive for a healthy diet during the holiday season, or could it be helpful to let loose, to boost motivation for the rest of the year? Leave a comment below!

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  • joan

    I have learned to pay attention to my meals and snacks. I am a Type 1 Diabetic for 56 years.

    About the voters and politicians these days being wise about food choices? Well, from what I hear and read, living on the West coast, I think that at least half of the country is way off course when it comes to using common sense – period! I include all political parties, and at least half of our current Congress!

    At parties I enjoy them; diabetes has not changed my life as I am still in charge! I enjoy one glass of wine, and I choose low carb snacks. If a dinner party or banquet I just eat what I can from what is served; small portions, leave the potatoes, and pastas and sweet alone but indulge in one piece of sour dough bread or biscuit! I usually have one bit of something sweet; my husband enjoys the rest! :0))

    If I do no know the menu, I can still count the carbs in my head at the time;

    Sometimes folks just have to be helpful and offer me a plate filled with mostly what I should not consume at all! I thank them, take a small bite, and in a few minutes put the plate down and walk away. Sometimes if asked, I will explain why I chose not to indulge!

    This does not mean that I am perfect or have perfect test results all the time! Even though I test frequently and count the carbs, weigh the food for home meals, my system remains very sensitive and my test results will go higher or lower than usual at any time for unknown reasons.

    I enjoy the holiday season! I go to all parties invited, I test before, during and after which is not hard to do using a pump. When on MDI years ago I still did the same routine. I keep my portions small; choose wisely most of the time but I must confess, sometimes I goof up!

    I look at it this way: If it hurts do not do that any more!