Diabetes? Holiday Help and Hints

The winter holidays bring much cheer, but along with all of the merriment can come stress, worry, and overindulgence. The holiday season is often a time when people with diabetes quickly and easily get out of their usual routine of self-care. How can you stay on track with your diabetes management and still enjoy the traditions and joy of the season? Hopefully some of these tips will help!

Choosing healthful foods and sticking with any type of eating plan is challenging. It’s OK to partake in holiday goodies; the key is planning ahead.


Eat before you go. Heading off to a holiday dinner or party? Enjoy! But don’t starve yourself all day in anticipation. Instead, stay with your usual eating pattern and eat a small, protein-rich snack before you head out. Suggestions: a handful of almonds and a couple of clementines; a small apple with peanut butter; 6 ounces of Greek yogurt mixed with ground flaxseeds or chia seeds.

Bring or serve a healthy dish. If there’s no way you’re skipping that creamed spinach casserole or pumpkin cheesecake, fine. But balance your indulgence with something healthful, such as a salad or roasted vegetable dish. Focus on flavoring your foods with herbs and spices rather than salt, butter, or cream.

Picture your portions. Before you grab the serving spoons, picture your plate: Aim to fill half with vegetables and/or salad. Fill a quarter of your plate with a protein food, like turkey breast, lean beef, or lean ham. Finish off the rest of the plate with a healthy carb food, such as brown or wild rice, sweet potato (minus the marshmallows), or green peas.

Physical activity
Shopping, entertaining, and cooking can quickly replace those good intentions to get to the gym or go for your usual daily walk. Understandably, it can be hard to get to that yoga class. But there are ways to stay active and get everything checked off your to-do list at the same time.

Take a break…and walk. Your energy is waning and that couch sure looks inviting. Resist the urge and go for a 10-minute walk first. And if you fit 10 minutes in, three times over the day, you’ve got your 30 minutes of physical activity right there. Done!

Make the most of housework. Dusting? Vacuuming? Washing the floor? Look at these chores as opportunities rather than drudgery. Remember, housework counts as physical activity — as long as you put some elbow grease into it. Vacuum like you’ve never vacuumed before. Polish your furniture with gusto. Pump your arms as you climb the stairs. Your efforts will add up and pay off.

Build activity into your holiday. It’s great to spend time with family and friends at this time of year, especially if you don’t see them often. But rather than lingering over the dinner table, suggest a group activity, whether it’s walking around the block, ice skating at the local rink, sledding or snow tubing (if there’s snow!), or even doing Wii Fit or YouTube exercises.

Stress management
Stress, anxiety, and worry often go hand in hand with the holidays for many reasons. You may not be able to avoid stress, but you can learn how to manage it. Don’t let these emotions bring you down.

Ask for help. If the thought of throwing your annual holiday bash or putting on a huge holiday spread is less than appealing, ask your family and friends to pitch in. Need help with shopping, housecleaning, or laundry? Enlist your spouse and kids. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, and people love to get involved.

Set aside time for you. With all of the hustle and bustle going on, it’s very easy to lose sight of your own needs. Stress can make it harder to take care of your diabetes, for example. Lack of sleep and exercise, too much alcohol, and unhealthy foods can also throw off your blood sugars and affect your health in other ways. There’s no guilt in setting aside time every day for you, whether you take a nap, go for a walk, or practice deep breathing.

Dealing with the blues. Holidays aren’t loads of fun for many people. This time of year can bring feelings of sadness, depression, loneliness, and stress. Let yourself feel these emotions. Spend time with people who care about you. Volunteer or help a neighbor in need. If you’re religious, seek solace in the spiritual side of the holidays. Remember, too, that it’s OK to say no to things that aren’t important to you. And if you’re feeling really down, seek help from a professional or an online community. You’re not alone!

Managing diabetes
Stress, less-than-ideal eating habits, and lack of physical activity all impact your blood sugars. The goal isn’t perfect blood sugar control at this time of year, but keep a watchful eye on how these events affect your health.

Check, check, check. You’ve heard it before, but when you’re out of your usual routine, the best way to know what’s happening to your blood sugars is to check with your meter. You can’t always go by how you feel, either. Using continuous glucose monitoring[1] can help, too.

Stay on schedule. A big part of diabetes self-care is sticking with a schedule in terms of eating, taking medicine, and fitting in physical activity. Do your best to stay with your routine.

Make time to sleep. Easier said than done, but fitting in 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night can do a world of wonders. Lack of sleep can lead to uncontrolled blood sugars, weight gain, and even an increased chance of getting sick. Make sleep a high priority at this time of year.

Happy and healthy holidays to all!

Have Type 2 diabetes and interested in the chance to win a meeting with a certified diabetes educator? You’ll want to enter the My Diabetes Dream Team Sweepstakes. Bookmark DiabetesSelfManagement.com[2] and tune in tomorrow to learn more.

  1. continuous glucose monitoring: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/managing-diabetes/blood-glucose-management/making-more-effective-use-of-your-continuous-glucose-monitor/
  2. DiabetesSelfManagement.com: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com

Source URL: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/holiday-help-and-hints/

Amy Campbell: Amy Campbell is the author of Staying Healthy with Diabetes: Nutrition and Meal Planning and a frequent contributor to Diabetes Self-Management and Diabetes & You. She has co-authored several books, including the The Joslin Guide to Diabetes and the American Diabetes Association’s 16 Myths of a “Diabetic Diet,” for which she received a Will Solimene Award of Excellence in Medical Communication and a National Health Information Award in 2000. Amy also developed menus for Fit Not Fat at Forty Plus and co-authored Eat Carbs, Lose Weight with fitness expert Denise Austin. Amy earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Simmons College and a master’s degree in nutrition education from Boston University. In addition to being a Registered Dietitian, she is a Certified Diabetes Educator and a member of the American Dietetic Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Amy was formerly a Diabetes and Nutrition Educator at Joslin Diabetes Center, where she was responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of disease management programs, including clinical guideline and educational material development, and the development, testing, and implementation of disease management applications. She is currently the Director of Clinical Education Content Development and Training at Good Measures. Amy has developed and conducted training sessions for various disease and case management programs and is a frequent presenter at disease management events.

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