Managing Diabetes During the Holidays

The holidays are a wonderful time to spend with family and friends. But for those with diabetes, the focus on food can be stressful. With advanced planning and preparation, you can still enjoy your holiday favorites without compromising your blood sugar goals.

Check out these quick tips to help you better manage diabetes this holiday season:

Holiday gatherings often fall outside traditional meal times, making it challenging to eat according to your regular schedule. When holiday events make it onto your calendar, create a plan to cope with unusual meal times to ensure your body’s needs are met. 

Don’t skip breakfast, lunch or healthy snacking during the day with the idea of saving carbs for the big meal later on. Skipping meals can make it harder to manage your blood sugar.

If you take medications such as insulin injections or pills to regulate blood sugar, you may need a snack to tide you over to prevent a low blood sugar reaction.

Reach out to your primary care provider or diabetes educator if you need extra help managing mealtime changes during the holidays. 

When attending a holiday get-together, you may experience wait time before the food is ready to eat. To keep your blood sugar levels stable, pack a small snack for yourself or offer to bring a healthy appetizer, such as a veggie tray, you can share with party guests.

With an abundance of carbohydrate-rich foods available, eating smaller portions can help you better manage your blood glucose. It might be tempting to have some mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and a roll, however, try to choose just one of these items. Or take a few spoonfuls or bites of each. If you taste something you don’t enjoy, leave it on your plate – you don’t have to finish the helping!

Remember, each bite adds up fast. Check your blood sugar levels to stay within your normal range.

Traditional holiday dishes tend to be high in carbohydrates. Focus on your favorites and skip the foods you can eat any day of the year. Eat slowly and savor the taste and texture of the foods that do make it on your plate. This is a great way to manage your diabetes and leave the meal satisfied.

Holiday travel can make it difficult to stick to your regular physical activity. Get active by inviting a friend or family member for a post-meal walk. Exercise will get you moving, keep you focused on your goals, and give you a welcome break from being surrounded by holiday treats. Exercise is also a great way to lower blood sugar levels.

If you are traveling, plan to make a few quick stops to stretch when in the car for long periods of time.

Remember to regularly check your blood sugar throughout the holidays. Adding a few extra checks on a party day may help guide your choices. 

If you overindulge during the holiday, don’t beat yourself up. Eating more than what you planned can happen. If it does, just make a plan to get back on track! For more holiday tips from the American Association of Diabetes Educators, click here. For healthy recipe ideas, click here.