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Integrated Diabetes Services

ALICIA-unleashedAlicia: UnLeashed!

Stop blaming the turkey!

How the holidays can be a great time for diabetes awareness.

The holiday season is in full swing! The traffic anywhere near the mall gives me road rage, the lines of restless children waiting to see a lap-worn man in red are stretching for miles, and the smell of Nancy’s kugel will soon be in the office!!

This can be a time when diabetes either gets more troublesome as carb counts soar and parties leave us wondering what on EARTH Aunt Edna puts in her pies that makes our blood sugars do THAT?! Or, management gets left by the fireside to be dusted off in 2020. I find I avoid the second by turning holiday frustrations of diabetes management into chances to share some diabetes awareness and open the door to let my friends and loved ones give some support and encouragement.

Give everyone a chance to identify, if even in a small way, with life with diabetes.

family dinner

The post feast snooze while pretending to watch a parade is a tradition that has reached mythic proportions and the word Triptofan starts flying. But L-tryptophan in turkey is only well absorbed on a completely empty stomach, and the amount in turkey is not much more than what is found in pork, chicken, dairy products and other proteins. I like to share with my loved ones that the super dozy state they are feeling is actually because of the carbs they ate! After the carb-a-palooza that is Thanksgiving even people who don’t have diabetes experience a large and prolonged blood sugar elevation, probably the biggest they have all year! This makes us feel sluggish, sleepy, foggy brained, and even a bit queasy! A lot like high blood sugars that people with diabetes experience pretty frequently. So I use this time to share with my loved ones that this is what I feel like when my management is off, or when I over indulge, or a pump site fails; this is why I get fatigued, cranky, and can’t be the life of the party.

Oh, the other reason we doze off during the holidays is because we were multitasking like crazy people trying to get the timing of 6 dishes, 3 kids, 4 in-laws, a dog and a turkey to somehow magically come together in some idealized Norman Rockwell moment and it is completely brain bending and exhausting. You know, like bolusing for pizza and a beer after a workout the day after a cortisone injection knowing that my endo is going to judge me based on the outcome…. After that kind of multitasking diabetes I think I’ve earned a nap too!

Instead of lashing out at “those things” people say,  flip the script and share some education on life with diabetes.

What can I eat? Whatever I can fit in my mouth, chewing is optional What SHOULD I eat? The same healthy diet as you do! As people with diabetes we learn a LOT about our foods, we are a veritable WEALTH of food trivia!! So share that knowledge! When someone asks “Can you eat that”  rather than an eye roll to go on the side, share “I can, but I should really prebolus about 20 minutes ahead since it’s pretty high glycemic index and extend the bolus since the high carb content is likely to slow digestion, oh almost forgot to temp basal for the high fat content on this one, thanks for the reminder!” And voila! You’ve now become a mathematician with a minor in biochem! Next thing you know you’ve sparked a discussion about healthier eating and some great and yummy swap outs we can all try for next year!

But not everyone likes the spotlight of becoming Mr Wizard of the dining room, so another great way to educate is to respond “I know TV makes it look like diabetes is all about only eating certain things, but with education and a little work I can eat, exercise and celebrate just like anyone else, but thanks for looking out for me, that means a lot!”

Make behaviors for healthy diabetes management into a tradition of wellness to bring the family together!

It is a proven fact that healthy behaviors are easier to keep up with accountability and support! So make it a family tradition with those you love to show one another some extra TLC this holiday season by sharing in family health habits. Make taking a walk together part of your festive gatherings. Whether it’s a stroll through nature huddled close for warmth, gazing at lights along the city streets, or a holiday scavenger hunt to find a list of holiday themed items in the neighborhood, these have become some of the most beloved memories for our family.  We also challenge ourselves and one another to find another yummy decadent healthy option to put on the table! Everyone secretly looks forward to the chance to try to guess which dishes have hidden veggies like my Mac and cheese packed full of butternut squash or mashed potatoes that are actually half cauliflower (Shhhh don’t tell my father in law! He still hasn’t figured it out after 5 years!) It has spread too! My friends and family members have started making cookies and cakes smaller thinking about portion control, and started buying one another experiences to go DO rather than goodies to eat and stuff to clutter shelves.

My life with diabetes has empowered my entire family and circle of friends to live a little healthier, which makes life with diabetes a little easier to live at this time of year.