For a patient living with diabetes, the holidays can be one of the hardest times of the year. Foods are typically heavy, indulgent and loaded with sugar. These foods can easily contribute to weight gain and increased blood sugar levels. If you’re in good control of your overall health and blood sugar levels, having occasional holiday food won’t be a problem. But, if you’re not careful, those eating habits can cause long-term effects and damage to your well-being. With the following tips, you can still enjoy the holidays and keep your weight and blood sugar under control.
For many people, maintaining an exercise schedule through the busy holidays seems impossible. But, it’s important to try and get around 40 minutes of exercise per day. Even if you can’t go to the gym, find a fun winter activity (ice skating, snowshoeing, etc.) to do with your family and friends.
Although it might seem like an insurmountable task to avoid eating huge portions of holiday food, there are some ways to make it easier. Instead of grabbing a large plate, use a smaller plate or even a napkin to prevent becoming overly full. Hang around in an area that’s away from the food, and seek out low-calorie alternatives to sodas and other drinks.
Monitor your alcohol and carb intake
Both alcohol and excess carbohydrates can adversely affect your blood sugar levels. While alcohol typically lowers blood sugar, carbohydrates tend to cause your blood sugar to drastically increase. Most recommendations for diabetics limit alcohol to one drink per day for women, and two for men. For carbohydrates, a good practice is having either a carbohydrate side with your meal or a dessert to help limit your intake.
Bring healthy alternatives
Controlling what foods are served during a family holiday is difficult, but you do have power over what you bring (and what you eat!). A vegetable tray is a healthy, low-calorie option that also makes for easy snacking. If you’re looking for something a little more exciting, there are plenty of diabetic-friendly, low-calorie desserts and sides available to bring to your holiday party.
Eat healthy while eating out
In addition to attending family events and parties, many people go out to eat more often during the holidays. This is often a challenge for diabetics, who are confronted with decadent meals and desserts. Fortunately, many restaurants offer alternative sides and preparation methods to accommodate anyone trying to make healthier decisions. Ask your server about these options so you can still enjoy eating out with friends and family.
Be aware of your blood sugar levels
Check your blood sugar more often during the holidays than you normally would. With all the travel, work changes and family events, it’s easy to forget about your normal schedule and medications. Make a habit of checking your blood sugar levels regularly – especially before a trip – and leave room in your schedule to accommodate unforeseen changes that might arise.
Sometimes the chaos of the season doesn’t allow us to remain organized or keep track of our diet and exercise. Luckily for us, mobile apps and tools are especially useful. Many apps now let you count carbohydrates and calories of certain dishes, as well as let you know how much insulin you’ll need to take. The app MyFitnessPal is a great place to start.
If you apply these tips to your normal holiday routine, you should find the holidays less impactful on your health as a diabetic. With a little extra planning and effort, you can still savor each bite of portioned food and enjoy the holidays with your family.