6 Ways to Manage Your Diabetes Over the Holidays

Tips to cope with temptation and seasonal stress
6 Ways to Manage Your Diabetes Over the Holidays

It can be tough to resist overeating, drinking too much, and stressing out over the holidays. It’s even tougher when you’re dealing with a chronic condition like diabetes.

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Follow these tips from registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator Andrea Dunn, RD, LD, CDE, to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the holiday season:

1. Stick to your schedule

As often as possible, try to get up, eat, exercise, and take your diabetes and other medications at about the same time as you usually do — even on days off over the holidays.

2. Check your blood sugar frequently

If you’re taking insulin or medications that lower blood sugar, check your blood sugar more frequently during the holidays, especially before driving or adjusting your insulin doses. Make allowances for changes in your work and exercise schedules, and your eating opportunities.

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3. Budget your sweets and treats

To keep your blood sugars from skyrocketing, include sweets and treats as part of, and not in addition to, your carbohydrate budget. Skip the starches (potatoes, rice, pasta and bread) at dinner to “save” carbohydrates for what you really want to eat: the nut roll Aunt Emily only makes for the holidays.

4. Watch your alcohol intake

Moderate alcohol intake can have a blood sugar-lowering effect, so don’t drink on an empty stomach. Be sure to check your blood sugar more often after drinking. Recommendations for alcohol are no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two per day for men. (One drink equals 4 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, and 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.)

5. Be party-smart

If you’re going to a holiday party, ask if you can bring a dish — such as a vegetable tray or vegetable-based appetizer — that is lower in calories and fat. At the party, enjoy some of the vegetable-based appetizers first, then the meat or cheese appetizers. Place appetizers on your napkin instead of a plate so you’ll be less likely to overfill it.

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Another tip: don’t stand near the buffet table or near food when talking at a party. Move to another part of the room so you won’t be tempted to overeat what’s nearby. It’s also important to stay hydrated. Drink water or club soda with a lime or lemon twist. Holding a calorie-free drink will also keep your hands busy.

6. Remember the reason for the season

Enjoy what you do eat —savor each bite! But put the focus on family and friends, and not on food. Most important, remember to include time for exercise, along with meals and relaxation. The holidays will only be great if you’re in good health to enjoy them.

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