From Thanksgiving to Christmas, we spend countless hours with friends and family around the dining room table. And while Grandma is whipping up her signature dish, many people find themselves struggling with much more than counting calories. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29.1 million people have diabetes in the United States alone. Of those 29.1 million, 8.1 million people are undiagnosed. Without proper management, diabetes can wreak havoc on the body, causing complications like stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Let our Diabetes Management staff prepare you with knowledge and skills to manage your diabetes during this holiday season! Here are seven tips to help you navigate the holidays:
1. Maintain Your Schedule
It’s easy to fall into the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but don’t forget to put your health first.
Be conscious of your current meal schedule and stick to it. Do so by creating a “plan of attack” for each wave of gatherings to keep you on target for a happy and healthy holiday season. Not only will planning ahead help keep you on track, it will also ease the stress that managing your diabetes can bring.
2. Plan Ahead
If you’re heading out for dinner, look up the menu ahead of time. Deciding what to order in advance allows you to modify your meals for the evening and earlier in the day. If you’re eating buffet style, do a walk-through before filling your plate. It’s all too easy to load up on unhealthy options if you don’t know what’s available. Once you see all your options, start with the healthier choices and leave a small fraction of your plate for any indulgences.
3. Load up on Snacks
Eat a healthy snack before heading out to a party. Because dinner plans might not coincide with your regular eating hours, you should come prepared with snacks for the evening. Regularly snacking helps to maintain your blood sugar levels throughout the night.
4. Make Healthier Alternatives
Take a healthier approach to traditional holiday favorites. Instead of using fatty ingredients, try swapping them out for a healthier option - you’ll be surprised at how similar and tasty it can be. If you’re invited to a friend’s house for dinner, offer to bring a dish of your own. That way you know there is a healthy alternative for you.
5. Host the Party
If you’re up to it, take the party into your hands. Instead of eating whatever is offered at someone else’s home, make your home the central hub for the holidays. Being able to control the menu will help manage what you eat from day to night.
6. Indulge Wisely
No one says you cannot indulge this holiday season. What’s important to remember is to indulge wisely. If grandma only makes her famous apple pie once a year, you CAN have a (small) slice. Treat yourself to special foods that you might not find other times of the year.
7. Focus on Friends and Family
Take the focus away from the food. While it is a fun part of the holiday season, it doesn't need to be the focus. Instead of spending time around the snack table, participate in party games and conversation. After all, your family and friends are what make the holiday season truly special.
Don’t stress over the holidays this year. With help from our Diabetes Management team, you’ll be able to enjoy each meal without jeopardizing your health in the process. If you or a loved one has diabetes and is looking for support, our diabetes support group is available. At our quarterly meetings, we discuss topics relevant to diabetics and their loved ones.