It’s the Most Challenging Time of the Year!
The holiday season can be one of the most enjoyable times of the year, but it can also present unique challenges if you’re dealing with type 2 diabetes. Most social events this time of year (and, let’s be honest, all year) revolve around food and drinks, especially sweets and alcohol.
You’re also likely to be even busier than normal, between social gatherings, holiday cooking and baking, decorating, and shopping for gifts. Stir in some house guests from out of town and one too many get-togethers with family you don’t always get along with, and it’s a recipe for stress and burnout.
Fortunately, with a little planning and perseverance, you can enjoy the holidays and stay on top of your diabetes. The tips that follow are an excellent guide to keep with you for Christmas Present and Future.
15 Tips to Survive the Season
- Maintain Your Routine
It’s easy to get sidetracked during the holidays, but be sure you’re still setting aside time for your regular meal planning and preparations. This way you’ll be less likely to be tempted by fast-food fixes for dinner or to skip your workout in favor of a last-minute shopping trip.
Make Exercise a Priority
Regular exercise is essential if you have diabetes, and this is true during the holiday season just as it is the rest of the year. Schedule your exercise sessions into your day like you would any other important appointment, and make a commitment that your workout “appointments” cannot be broken.
Learn to Say No
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with too many social or work obligations, try to simplify your schedule (and maintain that routine!) by saying no. You don’t have to attend every holiday event that you’re invited to, and often you may get a renewed sense of energy and optimism by opting out of an invite and getting to bed early instead.
Eat Before the Party
Whenever you know you’ll be going to a place with lots of tempting foods, be sure you fill up on healthy foods beforehand. This will make it much less likely that you’ll overeat or binge on sweets at the event.
Be Choosey When Enjoying Holiday Foods
Having diabetes means you need to follow a very healthy eating plan, one with little to no sugar, bread, pasta, rice, or white potatoes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a holiday meal! Instead of filling up on crackers, breads and cookies, look for special holiday treats that are still good for your body — fresh fruits, shrimp, deviled eggs, sweet potatoes, salads, baked apples, turkey, beef roast… the list goes on and on. There are tons of great options that can be enjoyed and that are healthy for you, too.
Remember You’re Human
If you “slip” and indulge in too many holiday sweets, don’t beat yourself up about it. Get back on track the next day and remember that you’re exercising and choosing healthy foods to nourish and support your body. Having a short memory and forgiving nature will keep your spirits high!
Take a Pass on the Alcohol
Alcohol is a fast-acting sugar. Drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol can lead to blood sugar spikes, and overdoing it can lead to a potentially dangerous blood sugar crash or spike. So just pass on the spirits and opt for festive non-alcoholic beverages, like seltzer water garnished with citrus wedges, instead.
Don’t Skip Meals
Skipping meals can disrupt your blood sugar levels, leading to low blood sugar. It also makes it more likely that you’ll overeat later or succumb to the temptation of unhealthy food choices. So be sure you continue to plan out your meals and take time to eat healthy snacks all day long.
Focus on Family and Friends
The holidays may seem to rotate around food, but it’s really about spending time with family and friends who enrich our lives. Keep your focus on what the holidays are truly all about and what they mean for your family. You’ll find more enjoyment in what really counts and spend less time stressing about counting carbs.
Plan Fun Holiday Activities
There are many holiday activities that don’t focus on food, so be sure you’re enjoying them. Caroling, ice skating, walking around your neighborhood to view lights and decorations, sledding, tree trimming, sitting in front of your fireplace reading stories and much more can be enjoyed by all members of your family without extra treats and goodies.
Learn to Make Diabetes-Friendly Recipes
You can still take part in holiday baking traditions by modifying existing recipes to be more diabetic friendly, or by finding new diabetic recipes to make into traditions. Along with making these recipes to enjoy with your own family, bring along your favorite dish to dinner parties or other events – you’ll have a healthy choice to nibble on and can share some knowledge and experience with those around you, too!
- Avoid or Manage Your Trigger Situations
Do you know you’ll have a hard time passing up dessert? Grab a friend or family member and go for a brisk walk instead of lingering at the table after dinner. Do you have a hard time making healthy choices at buffets? Fill your plate with veggies and lean protein first before going back to the bar, so you won’t have room for extra refined carbs or sweets.
- Get Plenty of Sleep
Too many late or sleepless nights can influence your hunger levels, your willpower, and your mood. Regular, high-quality sleep will help you keep an optimistic, healthy outlook while giving you the energy you need to keep exercising and enjoying those marathon holiday events.
- Have Healthy Outlets to Deal With Stress
If you’re feeling overwhelmed be sure to take time out for relaxation, whether that’s taking a long soak in the tub, chatting with a friend, or zoning out with a good book. When you become overly stressed, not only does your physical health suffer, but you’ll also be more likely to reach for sugar and carbs for a pick-me-up. Keeping your stress levels under control will make your diabetes more manageable, so make regular relaxation a priority.
- Stay Positive
The holidays come only once a year, so even if you’re feeling stressed out and mentally taxed by all the demands on you (and your willpower), remember that they’re only here for a short time. Try to keep your mind in the present moment and enjoy each day as it comes. Find something each day to smile about, maybe even taking the time to jot down all that you are thankful for during a season of grace.
Don’t forget! These tips will take you through the holiday season and into your New Year resolutions, too!