Managing your diabetes during the holidays

November 19, 2020

By: Julie Samantray, M.D., M.P.H., Department of Internal Medicine

It is the time of the year to celebrate the holidays with our loved ones. This year has been especially challenging with the ongoing COVID pandemic. Because of this, it is even more important to make health and safety a priority during the holiday season.

For people with diabetes, there is an increased risk of uncontrolled diabetes and the complications associated with it if you overindulge during the holidays. For many of us, holiday gatherings – large or small – are associated with special foods and often these are calorie-dense items.

Changing the focus of the holidays from “food and drinks” to “spending quality time with friends and family” can help prevent undesired weight gain and diabetes complications.  So can making the right kind of food choices, controlling portions and incorporating exercise. Modeling healthy behaviors can have a positive impact on children and other family members, and be the best gift that you can give both yourself and them.

Here are eight tips for managing your diabetes if you are attending holiday celebrations:

  • Bring a diabetes-appropriate dish to help you resist high-fat, high-carb, high-calorie food.
  • Choose your carbohydrates carefully, eating the same amount or only slightly more than usual.
  • To curb your appetite, eat a diabetes-appropriate, high-protein, low-carb and high-fiber snack before you arrive – like nuts or vegetable sticks with hummus.
  • Drink water and eat salad first to lessen your desire to overindulge during the meal.
  • Don’t skip meals in preparation for a big holiday meal. It’s best to eat regular meals at regular times to keep your blood glucose within target.
  • Exercise after the meal by encouraging family and friends to take a walk or play an outdoor game.
  • Limit alcohol to one or two drinks with food to avoid a low blood sugar – and count drinks as a serving of carbohydrates.
  • Check your blood sugar more often.

Widely fluctuating blood glucose readings can be very stressful at any time, but especially during the holidays. So, if your blood sugar readings tend to fluctuate, Wayne Health’s Diabetes Clinic can help you wear a sensor that can provide real-time glucose readings to you 24/7.

Diabetes is strongly associated with heart disease. So, also be mindful of potential symptoms of heart disease (such as shortness of breath; swollen lower legs, ankles, or feet; bloating; fatigue; a pounding or fluttering pulse) and heed the warning signs. Timely intervention can save your life.

By following these healthy habits, you can control your diabetes during the holiday season and contribute to a healthier you year-round.

Managing your diabetes during the holidays
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