Diabetes and the holidays: 5 tips for holiday survival

Between Halloween candy and the last glass of New Year’s champagne, the end of the year is filled with lots of celebrations, parties, festive foods and sweets. Managing diabetes and the holidays can be challenging, but it’s still possible to relax and enjoy the celebration while making healthy choices. Here are five helpful tips.

Holiday meal

1. Make a plan

Don’t go to any party, dinner or restaurant without having some idea of what will be served. Ask the host beforehand, look up the menu online or for potluck-style parties, bring a beloved carb-balanced dish to share.

If you know what’s available, you’ll be able to sample your favorite dishes while still primarily eating healthy proteins and veggies. The CDC published guidance encouraging people to “fit in favorites” by making choices between what they like and what they love — so enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie but skip the dinner roll.

2. Enjoy non-food activities

Food is only one part of the overall celebration. Focus on other aspects of the holiday season, rather than just indulging in food and beverages.

The American Academy of Diabetes Educators suggested socializing away from where the food is set up to avoid grazing while spending time with friends and family. Watch the football game with your uncle, sing carols with your cousins and light the candles with your children. Better yet, create a new tradition that includes a physical activity, like playing a game outside or enjoying a brisk walk to look at holiday decorations.

3. Drink responsibly

According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, alcohol consumption should be limited to no more than one drink per day for women, and two drinks per day for men. Alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar and may interact with some diabetes medications. Enjoy your midnight glass of champagne with food and, of course, never drink and drive.

4. Traveling? Be prepared

The American Diabetes Association offered some great tips for traveling safely with all of your necessary supplies, including the recommendation to bring twice as many medical supplies as you think you’ll need. If you’re flying, pack your supplies in your carry-on baggage so they won’t get lost if your luggage is misplaced.

5. Discuss your strategy

Managing your diabetes and the holidays on top of it might start to feel overwhelming, but your endocrinologist is there to help you reach your goals and maintain optimal health. They can help you personalize your holiday management strategy and will likely encourage you to test your blood sugar more often, so you can make adjustments to your food and medications.

With the right plan, diabetes doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying this special time of year with family and loved ones. Happy, safe and healthy holidays from all of us at Reid Health!

Image source: Flickr

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