Managing Diabetes during the Holidays

Katie Schlemer, RD, LDN

You know what time of year it is – it’s the holiday season! Many celebrations take place over the next few months, each offering an array of food and drink. This tends to be the hardest time of year for anyone trying to maintain healthy eating habits.

People with diabetes have the added burden of taking and timing medications appropriately; monitoring blood sugar levels; exercising; carbohydrate counting; and keeping up with medical appointments (yikes!).

With all of these medical demands plus the normal stressors of the holidays, it can be difficult to find the balance between enjoying yourself and taking care of your health. If you decide completely ignore taking medications while enjoying holiday festivities, for example, consequences such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, or other severe health issues could occur.

On the other hand, if you obsess over every little thing you eat or skip events altogether, you may cause yourself more stress than necessary or might end up missing out. It’s all about finding the right balance.

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Tips to stay happy, healthy, and balanced this holiday season:

  • KEEP THE FOCUS: Sometimes, the true meaning of the holiday season gets lost. We can become distracted by the food, drink, and gifts and forget to focus on quality time with our friends and family. Take an opportunity to step away from the snack table and catch up with friends, play a game of touch football, or help out the host.
  • MODERATION IS KEY: When it comes to food, it’s not about avoiding all of the “bad” foods – it’s about eating a variety of foods while controlling the portion size. If you’re at a buffet-style party, make a lap around to see all of the offerings first, and then decide what to put on your plate. Pass up the foods you can eat anytime so you can allow for a serving of a special holiday dish.
  • PLAN AHEAD: Always make sure to take factors such as medication, meals, and blood sugar monitoring into consideration when heading to a get-together. You never know when the holiday party might wind down, so be prepared! Bring blood sugar testing supplies and all medications with you. It may help to set an alarm or reminder to remain on time. It will be worth the extra diligence in the end!
  • INCORPORATE ACTIVITY: Find ways to be active throughout the day. Try taking a walk after Thanksgiving dinner, helping out with household chores, or taking an extra lap around the mall while holiday shopping. Remember to wear comfortable, sturdy shoes and to bring a source of sugar in case of low blood sugar.
  • GET BACK AT IT: If you overindulge at some point, don’t throw in the towel and give up! Remember that nobody is perfect, but we each have an opportunity to start with a fresh slate at the next meal.

Click here to read more holiday eating tips for people with diabetes.

The Touro Diabetes Center provides a comprehensive program of educational services and support to individuals and groups. The Diabetes Center works closely with physicians to identify each patient’s specific needs and helps them develop the self-management skills needed to control their disease.

Katie Schlemer, RD, LDN, is a Registered Dietitian and a Diabetes Educator in the Touro Diabetes Center. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Saint Louis University and completed her Dietetic Internship at Tulane University. Katie has been counseling individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, and gestational diabetes for the past 3 years. Her goal is to help individuals learn how to maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to live well with diabetes.

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