The holidays can be difficult for those with diabetes since the usual festivities revolve around food and overindulgence. For most, this means a few extra pounds of weight gain, but for a diabetic, it can be a very serious issue. Here is a list of suggestions to help diabetics enjoy the holidays and keep their diabetes in check at the same time.
1. Don’t Focus On The Food
The holidays are about spending time with family and friends. Yes, there is almost always food, but it shouldn’t be the focus of the party. Keep the focus on being together and not on devouring half the pumpkin pie. If anything, try to spend more time socializing and less time eating.
2. Create New, Healthy Traditions
Diabetics can create new, healthy traditions that will not only be good for them, but good for their friends and family as well. A small, early meal could be followed by volunteering at a local shelter, and then a small meal could come after. Or, having a family, pre-meal bicycle ride with a post-meal walk can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. There are a number of possibilities and all of them will help diabetics maintain control of their diabetes.
3. Be Active
Activity is essential to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels because the body uses the sugar in the blood for fuel. After dinner, how about a game of touch football in the back yard, or a stroll through the neighborhood? Many hotels have fitness centers for their guests to use, and diabetics should make use of them. If staying with family or friends during the holidays, enquire with local fitness centers about any specials they may have for travelers. Many will allow travelers to use their facilities on a “pay as you go” basis for a limited period of time.
4. Look For Diabetic Friendly Recipes
There are thousands of recipes available that are diabetes-friendly. A simple online search can turn up many of them for free, or there are hundreds of diabetic friendly cookbooks available at the local bookstore. An extra bonus is that most diabetic friendly recipes are also good for those on low carbohydrate diets, so if someone observes a low carb lifestyle, this would be great for them too.
5. Have A Plan And Stick To It
Planning is essential for a diabetic. They should have a healthy eating plan worked out with their doctor, and they should stick to it, whether it’s the holidays or not. By monitoring blood sugar regularly, eating properly and staying active, people with diabetes can indulge a bit and enjoy the holidays while maintaining control of their diabetes.
6. Eat Small Portions
Many have heard the saying, “everything in moderation,” and when it comes to enjoying holiday treats, it’s definitely the best way to go, not only for diabetics, but for everyone. Eating smaller portions keeps people from over-eating far more calories than they need, but it also keeps blood sugar from spiking and dropping. When someone eats too much, their blood sugar spikes and if the body can’t use all of that glucose, it is then stored as fat. Eating small portions of food allows people to enjoy the foods they like, without the blood sugar spike that they don’t.
7. Eat Regularly, Don’t Skip Meals
This tip goes hand in hand with eating smaller portions, and for the same reasons. Eating regularly and keeping meals small will help keep blood sugar from making wild swings. Skipping meals can let blood sugar drop too low, so diabetics need to make sure that they eat regularly.
8. Educate Family And Friends
Diabetics need to make sure that their family and friends are aware of their special needs. This way family and friends can be sure that there are appropriate foods available for diabetics. This can also allow family and friends to know what signs of trouble to look for in the event that a diabetic experiences a problem. This should be done in advance of the holiday gathering.
9. Avoid Alcohol
Diabetics are typically advised not to consume alcohol. The reason for this is blood sugar levels and the effects of alcohol. Alcoholic beverages can cause low blood sugar, so if someone is going to have a drink, they need to make sure that they do so on a full stomach and that they monitor their blood sugar closely. Women should limit alcohol consumption to one drink, and men should observe a two drink limit. Always test blood sugar to ensure that it doesn’t drop too low.
10. Have Some Self-Control
Being a healthy diabetic is about control. Sticking to a normal schedule, exercising regularly, and knowing when to say “no” allows a diabetic to maintain control of his or her diabetes. Self-control doesn’t mean taking away all the fun of the holidays, but it does mean making the necessary lifestyle changes.
Above all else, it’s important that the diabetic know that they control their diabetes, the diabetes doesn’t control them. The best tip to help diabetics enjoy the holidays is for the diabetic to take care of themselves first. When they feel good, enjoying the holidays is a piece of cake, as long as that cake is eaten in moderation.