Tips for managing diabetes during the holiday season

The holiday season is both a beautiful and stressful time of year for most of us. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it can be even more challenging to manage your diabetes and the holidays at the same time. However, according to the American Diabetes Association, with some minor changes you should be able to handle managing both with confidence.

First and foremost, remember to enjoy yourself. You certainly don’t need another stressor. For example, in order to get in your exercise time, take a walk around the neighborhood to enjoy the decorations or try something new like snow shoeing or cross country skiing. These simple things can help to keep the holidays wonderful and simple.

Let’s face it, everywhere you go there will be food. What do you do? First remember “Everything in Moderation!” Here are some other tips to help you manage successfully:

1. If you know ahead of time that you will be in a situation of temptation, plan your day accordingly. Eat healthy at home and consider filling up on good nutritious foods prior to going out, in order to minimize cravings.

2. Fill your plate with healthy foods.

3. Pick the one item you absolutely must splurge on and put a small amount of it on your plate, guilt free. But remember that it is on your plate and avoid the other things that you don’t really need or like.

4. When going to a dinner party let your hostess know you have dietary restrictions in advance. Most people appreciate knowing any specific needs so they can make their guests more comfortable. It may be something as simple as setting out an artificial sweetener with coffee. It may also reduce the “hurt feelings syndrome” when you are selective and take small amounts of food.

5. Another important thing to remember is that alcohol does have calories and can interfere with medications. If you have specific questions on use of alcohol with your medical regime, talk to your doctor or pharmacist for the best advice.

6. Eating healthy is good for everyone, not just people with diabetes. If you are bringing food to a gathering, make it healthy. If you plan on baking use a diabetes friendly recipe. There are many great recipes available online, in magazines, and at your local library.

7. Check your blood sugar levels regularly especially during the holiday season. The feedback provided is invaluable and provides a lot of insight into what your personal limits are. Ideal goals, regardless of the season, are fasting values of 80-120 mg/dl and about 140 mg/dl 2 hours after eating. Higher values may indicate there is a little too much holiday cheer going on.

With a little bit of moderation, you can help to ensure the holidays can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of diabetes. And with a little bit of moderation, you can help to ensure that there will be many more enjoyable holiday seasons to come!

If you would like to learn more about managing your diabetes, HealthLink Littauer will begin a six-week series of free educational classes on “Diabetes Self-Management” beginning January 25, 2018. For more information, call HealthLink Littauer at 518-736-1120. You can e-mail us at healthlink@nlh.org, see our website at nlh.org, or visit our new wellness center at 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.

Carol Tomlinson is a community health educator for HealthLink Littauer.

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