For many, the holidays are about friends, family, fellowship, and food. So, it is safe to say that many holiday traditions center around the kitchen table. Food is an important part of any celebration, and nothing says Thanksgiving quite like Grandma’s Pecan Pie. For those living with diabetes, however, managing blood sugar levels during the holidays can be stressful.
Planning ahead is essential in managing your diabetes during the holiday season. With a Healthy Holiday Plan, you can still enjoy your holiday favorites while controlling your blood sugar levels.
Tips for Managing Diabetes During the Holidays
- Time your Meals: We often eat earlier or later than usual during the holidays, which can disrupt our diabetes management plan. Plan to incorporate a healthy snack if you know you will eat later than normal. Make sure you do not skip meals and be aware of low blood sugar symptoms or readings, especially if you take insulin or other diabetes medication(s) that increase your risk for low blood sugar.
- Be Physically Active: Don’t forget your physical activity goals during your holiday vacation. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, it is recommended that adults get 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Incorporate movement into your holiday plans by asking your family to join you for a walk around the neighborhood after dinner.
- Watch your Portions: Most holiday foods contain a large number of carbohydrates, and many have added sugars. With sugary sweets, moderation is key. Be mindful of the portions you eat and make healthy substitutions when available.
- Keep a Balanced Diet: It is tempting to fill our entire plate with starchy holiday favorites, but a balanced diet is best when it comes to nutrition. Make sure you include all the food groups when preparing your plate, and don’t forget your vegetables.
- Manage your Stress: Stress can cause our blood sugar levels to rise, so it is important that we manage our stress during the holidays. Don’t lose sight of what really matters to you this holiday season. Set aside time to relax and remember to be kind to yourself.
- Plan Ahead if Traveling: If traveling out of town for the holidays, make sure you fill all necessary prescriptions before you leave. Also, take enough supplies for at least 3 extra days in case plans change, and you stay longer than expected.
- Surround Yourself with Support: Diabetes Self-Management Support Programs are a great way to increase your skills and help you better manage your diabetes. Health Extension for Diabetes is a free education program that provides education and support to those living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. For more information about Health Extension for Diabetes, contact your local Rural Health and Nutrition Extension Agent.
Don’t let the holidays interfere with your diabetes self-management. Instead, create a holiday plan to enjoy your favorite traditions while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018.
- Rodgers, A. B. (Ed.). (2018, February). 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report. Health.gov. Retrieved November 18, 2022, from https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/PAG_Advisory_Committee_Report.pdf
- (2020). 5 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/holidays-healthy-eating.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, December 14). 5 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 18, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/holidays-healthy-eating.html
- Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists. (n.d.). Holiday Season Eating Tips for People with Diabetes. Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists. Retrieved November 18, 2022, from https://www.diabeteseducator.org/
- (n.d.). Holiday Season Eating Tips for People with Diabetes. Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. https://www.diabeteseducator.org/docs/default-source/legacy-docs/_resources/pdf/general/AADE_Holiday_toolkit.pdf