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Ask Dana: Holiday Diabetes Management Tips

QUESTION:

Dear Dana,

I have spent the last few months working with Integrated Diabetes Services and I have a new confidence in my diabetes management.  This will be the first holiday season that I really focus on my health and wellness. What are some tips you can give me about staying in tight control despite holiday eating?

– Susie Peterson
Pensacola, Florida

ANSWER:

Dear Susie,

Way to go on finding new confidence in your diabetes management!   That is celebration-worthy indeed! 

However, you are not alone. For people with diabetes, the holidays can be a time of stress and anxiety.  But we can devise strategies to help this time be filled with more celebration and joy. There are many resources available to help you, and with a little planning, you can enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your health.

Here are some tips:

-First, meal planning in advance will help you avoid making unhealthy choices when you’re feeling rushed or stressed.

Be sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your meals, and limit processed foods and sugary drinks.  Increased alcohol use at holiday parties can complicate diabetes management.  Alcohol can lower your blood sugar levels, so it’s important to drink responsibly. If you do plan to drink alcohol, be sure to eat a meal or snack beforehand. Perhaps a review on how to safely enjoy alcohol is also a good idea.

-As your days become filled with more time commitments, make a point to not skip meals. 

Skipping meals will ultimately increase your appetite for the next meal and create larger portion sizes. Eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels stable and help you manage post-meal blood sugar spikes.

-Remember to keep up your healthy habits and don’t forget to keep up your regular exercise program.

You have worked hard to have a newfound confidence in your diabetes management and exercise helps to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. It’s a great way to relieve your holiday stress as well.

-Diabetes management should be part of your day but it shouldn’t take up all of your time.

It is important to consider how much time and energy you are dedicating to your diabetes management. Hopefully, your time over the past few months has taught you that we aim to devise strategies to manage your blood glucose but these habits ought not be too complicated or time-consuming.  If you find that it is too complicated and you are not able to enjoy holiday festivities or normal family and friend gatherings, let’s take some time to revisit how complicated your management has become.

-Most importantly to manage diabetes during the holiday season, don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

If you’re struggling to manage your diabetes during the holidays, talk to your family and friends and your doctor or diabetes educator.  Having a good support system can help you enjoy all the celebrations and not be burdened by diabetes management on your own.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to the team here at Integrated Diabetes Services and enjoy the holiday season!

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