By: Ashley Austin
‘Tis the season for family, food, and festivities. However, the holidays can be a challenging time for those living with diabetes. With copious amounts of sweet potato pie going around, sticking to a healthy eating regime can be difficult.
Despite the many temptations to overindulge on sweet treats, it is possible to enjoy the holidays and control your blood sugar. In honor of Diabetes Awareness Month, we’ve prepared the ultimate guide to help you manage diabetes during the holidays.
Don’t Skip Meals
It’s common for people to skip meals in the attempt to “make room” for feasting at Thanksgiving dinner. However, for people with diabetes, this is a huge “no-no”. Starving yourself before dinner often results in overeating, which can affect blood sugar levels.
Let’s be real, it’s hard to resist stuffing your face with dressing and candied yams. So if you do slip up, don’t skip meals the next day. Continue to track your blood sugar and follow your regular healthy eating routine.
Keep Stress in Check
One of the sneakiest culprits for blood sugar spikes is stress — and the holidays can bring on a lot. When you find yourself frazzled and ready to pull out your edges, take a few moments to relax.
Yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, and deep breathing techniques all help bring a sense of calmness and reduce stress.
Another holiday hallmark that affects blood sugar is alcohol. If you decide to indulge in libations, keep away from drinks with high amounts of sugar. Also, limit yourself to no more than one drink per day.
Alcohol can interact with certain diabetes medications. So make sure to get the green light from your physician or pharmacist before drinking.
Monitor Your Sweets
It’s okay to satisfy your sweet tooth during the holidays, but budget them accordingly. If you indulge in a sweet treat, make sure it doesn’t go over your daily sugar and carbohydrate allowance for the day.
Here’s another holiday hack: if you have dessert, cut back on other carbs and starches in your meal.
Remix Unhealthy Dishes
You’d be surprised how many staple holiday dishes you can tweak to fit into your healthy lifestyle:
- Making peach cobbler? Avoid canned peaches with added sugar and use fresh ones.
- For cakes that require butter, substitute it with applesauce. This cuts calories and fat without sacrificing flavor and texture.
- Replace sugar in desserts with a sugar substitute like agave nectar or Stevia.
These aren’t the only ways you can make holiday foods healthy. Check out more diabetic-friendly recipes from the American Diabetes Association.
Don’t let holiday festivities stop you from getting in exercise. Physical activity is a huge factor in managing diabetes.
It’s recommended you exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. But if you can’t pencil in a full workout during your busy holiday schedule, try doing two 15-minute workouts.
Get Plenty of Zzz’s
For some, getting sleep during the holiday vacation is a no-brainer, but for others, it can be hard to get some shut-eye. Sleep loss makes controlling blood sugar difficult.
It’s essential that you manage diabetes during the holidays by getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Is falling asleep a struggle for you? Create a peaceful bedtime routine that promotes restful sleep.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy the Holidays
Managing diabetes doesn’t have to put a damper on your holiday cheer. While you’re encouraged to be mindful of your habits during this time, don’t deprive yourself.
In essence, don’t forget the reason for the season — showing gratitude or celebrating with loved ones.
How do you manage a healthy lifestyle during the holidays?