When it comes to diabetes and holidays, you can still eat, drink and be merry – all it takes is a little planning and preparation, and the following tips on how to enjoy the holiday season with diabetes.
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with Type Two Diabetes. I’ve had to learn how to eat all over again. To this day I am still learning how to properly care for myself so my blood sugar levels stay within a healthy range, and I get the nutrition I need. One of the hardest times of the year to do this is the holiday season.
It can be very challenging to stay on track and manage your diabetes during the holidays. Especially when there are so many sweet and savory, delicious temptations at work, at holiday parties and events, and even at home. But it is possible.
Here are some tips on diabetes and holidays to help ensure you enjoy the holiday season while managing your diabetes.
WATCH THE TIMING OF MEALS
During the holidays, family gatherings and parties often occur at odd times which means mealtime may not be your usual time to eat. Therefore, you need to plan in advance how you will handle any potential changes to your regular meal schedule.
Try to eat as close to your usual times as possible to help keep your blood sugar steady.
If you take a pill or insulin injections to help lower blood sugar, having a light, healthy snack at your regular mealtime will help prevent a low blood sugar reaction.
Make a point to speak to your doctor before the holidays begin so you can best plan for how to handle any possible mealtime changes.
CONTINUE TO EXERCISE
If you are diabetic, then you know how important it is to exercise. And while it can be tempting to take a break from your exercise routine during the holidays, you need to stick with it.
Even though this time of the year is very hectic, you still need to set aside some time each day for physical activity. Not only does regular exercise help you keep your sugar in check, but it also helps you control your weight, helps keep your heart healthy, and is a great way to cope with that holiday stress.
Light exercise is also an effective way to lower your blood sugar fast. So, if your sugar level gets too high, try taking a quick walk or so other type of exercise.
MAKE DIABETES FRIENDLY RECIPES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
One of the best ways to ensure you continue to properly manage your diabetes during the holiday season is by cooking your own food. When doing so, try using healthier ingredients for your favorite treats. For example, use a sugar-free whipped cream instead of one with sugar and use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar.
Learning ingredient substitution techniques, such as using apple cider instead of butter for basting a turkey or substituting monounsaturated-fat ingredients for saturated-fat ingredients, will also help without compromising taste.
OFFER TO BRING YOUR OWN FOOD TO GATHERINGS AND PARTIES
Attending family gatherings and parties is a big part of holiday celebrations. So, when to comes to managing diabetes and holiday parties, planning is key.
If you’re invited to a party, be sure to plan ahead. It’s perfectly okay to ask your hostess or host what foods will be on the menu so you can plan your meal.
It is also okay to offer to bring a dish to share such as a festive salad, a tray of veggies with dip, a fruit platter, or a healthy home-made dish to share.
This way you know you will have a healthy option to fill your plate if need be. Then, from there, you can add your must-haves and would-like-to-haves in order to round out your holiday meal.
PRACTICE PORTION CONTROL
There is no reason why you can’t still enjoy your favorite foods and treats during the holidays. You don’t have to deprive yourself, but you don’t want to go overboard either – especially when it comes to calories, carbohydrates and sugars. The key is portion control when it comes to diabetes and holidays.
Look over the offerings before you fill your plate and think about what you want to have. If you want to try everything, instead of loading your plate down, get a tablespoon or two of each item.
Or pick a few of your holiday favorites and build your plate according to the plate method for diabetics. This is where half of your plate is non-starchy, low carbohydrate vegetables, one fourth is a deck of card size protein, and the remaining one fourth is a starchy vegetable or carbohydrate serving of choice.
Remember to keep your portion sizes reasonable, eat slowly, and forego seconds.
When it comes to dessert, count these as part of the total carbohydrates you are allowed each day rather than adding them to your diet. In other words, compensate for that piece of pie by cutting a carbohydrate or two from your main meal.
Other options are to share your dessert, or even ask for a smaller serving. I often find that just one or two bites of a sweet food is all it takes to satisfy my sweet tooth!
With the above tips on diabetes and holidays and a bit of planning, you can still enjoy the food-filled festivities and have a happy, fulfilling, and healthy holiday season regardless of your diabetes.