Easy Tips to Help Manage Your Diabetes This Holiday Season

If you are one of the millions of people nationwide who have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you are probably already bracing yourself for the upcoming holiday season. And for good reason.

Beginning with Thanksgiving and ending with New Year’s, the holidays are filled to the brim with magical treats you rarely see any other time of the year: candied vegetables, fried turkeys and eggnog spiked with alcohol.

So how do you manage diabetes with visions of sugarplums dancing in your head?

Experts say the first step is realizing you’re not alone.

According to a 2013 Texas Department of State Health Services report, an estimated 11 percent of adults in Texas had diabetes and an additional 8 percent had pre-diabetes, which is an indicator that your blood sugar is too high and you are on the path to diabetes.

Since you’re not alone – don’t act like it. Get support from your friends and family members.

“Get together with family and friends to plan meals and snacks that are modified to be delicious and yet healthier for all. This way they are acting as your support system and you are helping them possibly avoid getting this disease,” said Deborah Teuteberg, MSN, FNP-BC, family nurse practitioner at Texas Health Azle.

Have a plan – and stick to it!

If you’re watching as the holiday-related events are added to your calendar, being prepared to manage your diabetes can seem like a daunting task. Multiple Thanksgiving meals with different branches of your family – followed soon by the barrage of holiday office parties and family holiday bashes – can quickly lead to trouble for anyone dealing with diabetes. Teuteberg said the key to managing the impending holiday meals is knowing your schedule and looking forward at least a week: breakfast, lunch and dinner. During the day, you will likely have office holiday lunches – and at night you’re faced with family gatherings or holiday parties with friends.

  • Know what foods you can eat at any given meal and stash healthy snacks. According to the American Diabetes Association, a few good snacks are almonds, sesame seeds, baby carrots or celery with a spoonful of peanut butter so you can grab it on the go.
  • Snack on high-protein, low carbohydrate items on the way to a holiday event so you’re less likely to snack on the sweet treats while you’re there.
  • Know and closely monitor the triggers that elevate your blood sugar. Do an extra finger stick, if that helps. Or, if you can, use continuous glucose monitoring.
  • Build exercise time into your schedule so it’s easier to follow through. Or if you can’t, park at the back of the mall parking lot and force yourself to get those extra steps.

If you must toast in the holidays, do it responsibly

In addition to the mountains of homemade goodies that pop up during the holidays, there is also an increased presence of alcohol. And if you’re wondering if you can partake in some of your favorite holiday drinks, the answer is yes – kind of.

Most people with diabetes can have a moderate amount of alcohol. According to research published by the American Diabetes Association, moderate amounts of alcohol are permissible for those who have diabetes – as long as your physician is aware and has approved.

  • Women should have no more than one drink per day and men should have no more than two drinks per day. Keep in mind that one drink is equal to a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5-ounces of distilled spirits such as whiskey, vodka, gin, etc.
  • Make sure you don’t drink on an empty stomach or when your blood glucose is low.
  • Sip your drink slowly to savor it and make it last and be sure to have a zero-calorie drink by your side such as water, diet soda or iced-tea to keep you hydrated.

Managing diabetes is something to be faced head-on. And if you plan ahead, know what you can have and rely on your support system, you can have a great holiday season without sacrificing your diabetes management.

“Hang in there and stay on track with your diet,” Teuteberg said. “If you weaken, stick with other people who eat healthy. Focus on enjoying the company of your family and friends and less on the food.”

For more information about diabetes or to find care, visit our website.

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