Sail Through the Holidays With Diabetes

Your diabetes doesn't get to take a holiday. But you can still enjoy the spirit of the season as you manage your condition.

Health Monitor Staff
Reviewed by
Philip Levy, MD
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Grandma wants you to have a second helping of her famous potato pancakes. The office party pressure to drink is on. And shopping is squeezing out your exercise routine. No doubt about it: Staying on top of your diabetes during the holidays can be a challenge. But you can still enjoy the festivities while keeping your blood sugar stable, assures Martha Funnell, MS, RN, CDE, researcher at the University of Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center. "Think about situations you might find yourself in and decide how you're going to handle them."

Fool a food pusher. Chances are, Grandma will notice if you go back for a second helping, so keep her happy by serving yourself a modest portion at first, then ask for another small serving.

Focus on special-occasion entrées.
If holiday meals mean you have to eat Aunt Susie's stuffing or lasagna, then enjoy that, but pass on the mashed potatoes because you can have those anytime. Plan ahead to fit any indulgences into your day, and you won't feel deprived.

Make the call.
Phone ahead and ask your friends and family what's on the menu so you can plan for your insulin needs and get a sense of what you'll be able to eat. Consider bringing a dish so you know there will be something you like, as well as diet or sugar-free drinks in case none are available.

Put friends first.
At parties, let socializing—not the menu—be the main event! Before you head out, enjoy a bite of protein, like a handful of almonds. It'll fill you up so you won't feel ravenous when you arrive. Then, pace yourself during the event by restricting nibbles to brief intervals between chats with friends and family. If there are games or other activities, like tree trimming or caroling, get busy to distract yourself from food.

Make every calorie count.
Before finishing that slice of pie, try this: Take a bite, savor it slowly, and ask yourself if you really want another. If the flavor, texture and satisfaction aren't there, put down your fork.

Do this reality check. Weight gain is unhealthy for people with diabetes, says Tami Ross, RD, LD, CDE, vice president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. So to stay on track: "Try on your most form-fitting pants a few times during the holidays, and if you notice they are a little tighter, start being more careful about what you are eating."

December 2012