There are so many celebrations and holidays for people to enjoy this time of the year and one holiday seems to roll into the next. This time of the year brings a sack full of variables into life with diabetes. Travel, change in routine, meals that aren’t the norm and maybe completely off schedule as well as juggling social settings that may include things you don’t typically take part in.
In all of this, it can feel a bit stressful having to consider glucose management when you are trying to take part in all the holiday fun that is happening around you. I find myself making personal goals at this time of the year that can help me navigate the variables a bit better and keep things in check with less self judgment.
My goals that keep me in check are:
Choose indulgence when AT a gathering. > Keep day-to-day strategy for food the rest of the time. > Don’t bring extras home. Enjoy these items there, but decline the “oh take some leftovers, cookies, treats” offerings. > Choose to indulge in things that are once a year – Grandma’s homemade treat for example.
Continue to exercise. > Even if away from home, take a walk or do an online video and choose to do this at the beginning of the day before the festivities start. > Helps with keeping insulin sensitivity high > Increases feel-good hormones so you can make better decisions about food options that are out of the norm.
Start the day with breakfast. > Don’t skip meals expecting to “spend” all calories at the one gathering of the day with so many indulgences present. > Feed yourself at normal mealtimes to ensure you don’t feel over hungry and thus overeat later when you are ravenous.
Drink water and carry a non-caloric beverage at social gatherings. > Staying hydrated with water can help prevent you from eating more than you want. > Carrying a non-caloric beverage around decreases the chance of snacking and grazing since it is hard to carry a beverage and a plate and eat at the same time. > Focus on tasty drinks like carbonated flavored water, or a tasty holiday tea, or even coffee with a bit of whipped topping to add a bit of fun.
Offer to Bring a Dish. > Make the dish something you know the nutrition info for and provides you with a go-to item. > Veggie trays and holiday salads are great and offer a low-carb item that can fill a plate as well as offer satiety. > Bring a treat that is lower carb but don’t tell anyone – most often I find people are amazed at things I bring when I tell them it isn’t the high carb indulgence they thought it was.
Plan Non-Food Specific Fun – Enjoy your Family and Friends. > If you are part of a family gathering, discuss adding a game or social outing that doesn’t center around food. > Pictionary, a family baseball game, ice skating, sledding, whiffle ball, or a family day at a fun park may be options for time together that isn’t centered around food.
Start with the mindset that your choices are yours alone. While it can be hard to make choices in the moment, if you plan and set some guidelines for yourself it can be easier all around on your mental well-being and enjoyment of time with family and friends. Give yourself some grace in this Holiday season. No one is perfect but planning for gatherings from what you know from the past can make a difference in outcomes and provide a better all-around experience.
Wishing you all a wonderful Holiday season and the Best in the New Year to come!
Integrated Diabetes Services, Director of Lifestyle and Nutrition.
Jennifer holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Nutrition and Biology from the University of Wisconsin. She is a Registered (and Licensed) Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, and Certified Trainer on most makes/models of insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring systems.