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How to enjoy the holidays and manage your diabetes

family enjoying holidays at table

Create your game-plan for celebrating in moderation without feeling deprived

When holiday seasons rolls around, it's easy to let our celebrations become focused on food. That makes it especially challenging for the 30 million Americans who have been diagnosed with diabetes.   
Diabetes is a serious disease that can often be managed through physical activity, diet and the appropriate use of insulin and other medications to control blood sugar levels.
People with diabetes are at increased risk of serious health complications including premature death, vision loss, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and amputation of toes, feet or legs.
The possibility of these kinds of complications underscore the need to stick to a meal plan, even during the holidays.
“It can be challenging to stay on track and maintain a healthy diet during the season when there are lots of sweet and savory temptations at home, at work and at parties and other holiday events,” says Saumya Kumar, MD, a physician at PeaceHealth in Vancouver.
“But there is no reason that people who have diabetes can’t still enjoy their favorite treats. Don’t deprive yourself, just don’t go overboard when it comes to calories, carbohydrates and sugars.”

Reduce the urge to splurge

Need a little help putting together a game-plan? Check out these tips, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that will help reduce the urge to splurge:

  • Eat close to your usual times to keep your blood sugar steady. 

  • If you have a sweet treat, cut back on other carbs during the meal. Make sure to eat foods high in protein and fiber, and those that include healthy fats.

  • Don’t skip meals to save up for a feast. It will be harder to keep your blood sugar in control, and you’ll be really hungry and more likely to overeat.

  • Don’t deny yourself the foods you enjoy. Savor a small serving.

  • Being active can help make up for eating more than usual and reduce stress during what can be a demanding time of year. Go for a run,  take a walk or participate in a group exercise class.

Here’s another great idea: If you’re invited to a party, offer to bring a tray of colorful veggies or a healthy home-made dish to share. You can also try new recipes such as this pear-walnut crumble that can be friendlier to the needs of people with diabetes.

“The holidays are a such a special time to reconnect with family and friends,” said Dr. Kumar. “Coming together to enjoy the food — in moderation — is certainly a big part of it, but plan ahead so that creating lasting memories becomes the real focus.”
If you need a little extra help — either during the holidays or after — check out PeaceHealth classes on nutrition and diabetes.
Learn more about staying motivated to manage your diabetes.