Although internet shopping has grown tremendously in the last few years, there is still a large interest in physically hitting the stores and malls on Black Friday, which occurs annually the day after Thanksgiving, this year on Friday November 25th, 2022. The traditional holiday shopping season usually begins the day after Thanksgiving and ends on Christmas Eve, until the January sale season starts. Shoppers are looking for highly sought after merchandise and large price discounts. Big ticket items and newer electronic products offer the best price reductions on Black Friday. Online shopping, especially since the COVID pandemic, has blossomed; you can truly shop until you drop, without leaving your home, computer, laptop, phone or chair.
If you do prefer online shopping, get excited for Cyber Monday which is all about online shopping and happens the Monday after Black Friday’s weekend. It is considered the second biggest shopping day of the year, after Black Friday. “The savings on Cyber Monday tend to be a bit steeper than Black Friday.” The best deals online are on smaller gift items and tech products. Many shoppers still want the big thrill by waiting early at the door until the store opens, rushing in, searching high and low for deals, grabbing, touching and exploring the goods and coming home with the merchandise. This is better known as “instant gratification” of shopping. As in the past, retailers are trying to unload excess inventory and this year they want to entice shoppers to spend their money, even though the current inflation rate is currently extremely high.
Black Friday is that special day when retailers rake in the bucks as consumers everywhere throng to the stores to take advantage of holiday sales. Because of ongoing supply chain issues since COVID, store sales are expected to begin earlier and end later into the season than ever before. When merchandise is available, deals will be found. Do remember, the specially priced deals are not limitless, and they may run out quickly. “Black Friday has evolved over the years from a single day to an entire shopping season.” Although reduced prices begin early in the holiday season, some true bargains will not be offered until the actual day of Black Friday with prices 50-70% off retail. Many stores will have a price-match guarantee so if one chain store runs out, so you may need to search around for comparison pricing. You still may be in luck with a great deal. It remains the most anticipated shopping event of the year. Most retailers hire extra help just to get them through this crazy shopping time.
History of Black Friday
According to History.com, “Black Friday started back in 1869 when the price of gold decreased dramatically, causing many wealthy people to lose millions”. Two financiers bought up all the gold hoping to drive the price sky-high and then sell it for astonishing prices. The stock market went into free-fall and many people faced bankruptcy. Almost everyone suffered financially. That day became known as Black Friday. The story continues that “after an entire year of stores operating at a loss (in the red), the stores would earn a profit (in the black), the day after Thanksgiving. It’s been said that this version of Black Friday origins is inaccurate. Supposedly, the real story relates to shoppers in Philadelphia who created bedlam, mayhem and chaos prior to the annual holiday Army/Navy football game. Shoppers flooded to the stores prior to the game, there was a crowd frenzy and shoplifting was rampant. The police were overextended and not allowed off to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.
Modern Black Friday
Years later, sometime in the late 1980s, retailers reinvented Black Friday giving it a positive spin with super deals and bonanza sales. Over the years, Black Friday became a day that brings profits to retailers, keeping them in the black with strong profits. Published on local fliers as well as online, early deals are already being posted by Samsung, Walmart, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, Target and Amazon. Big ticket items such as dishwashers, washers and dryers, refrigerators and ranges will be on sale. Kohl’s, Best Buy and Walmart will enter the frenzied field as well. Walmart will offer the best deals of the season starting now and spread across every Monday through Black Friday, November 25th. Amazon is even in on it, although they just offered Prime Day with access to Apple devices, wireless headphones, home goods and pet products, along with clothing for men, women, and children. Target jumped in and is offering early Black Friday deals leading up to the holidays. Even Macy’s, the Thanksgiving Day parade sponsor, is participating early in the season with sales and savings on clothing, jewelry, handbags and shoes. Shoppers are hyped up and it’s the biggest shopping day of the year for retailers.
For people with diabetes, it can be a real challenge.
What can you do?
- Start price tracking early. Check the local fliers as well as the online ads.
- Prepare a holiday list with wants and needs. Include all the people who are receiving a gift.
- Look for price-match guarantees in case your special store sells out of an item.
- Find tech gadgets that you are drawn to ahead of time.
- Buy, wrap and store gifts early.
- Make sure if you do decide to shop at the store to know the store hours and be early. Park far away from the store for the exercise and probable less stress. Be prepared for the in-store action and do not be in a rush.
- Look for product bundles which will be priced even lower. Examples can be a washer and dryer purchased together instead of separate.
- Be ready for more than just shopping when you have diabetes.
Need some specific strategies to help cope with this exciting yet stressful day? Keep reading.
Always bring your needed medication and diabetes supplies with you when on an extended shopping trip. Even if you decide to get to the store super early, never skip your breakfast. Eat a high-quality protein like an egg, a slice of turkey, Canadian bacon or 1-2 tablespoons of nut butter. Add a whole grain carbohydrate such as oatmeal, whole grain or 100% whole wheat toast, rye toast, Cheerios, Fiber One, Go Lean cereal, a calorie-free beverage and a small serving of fresh fruit like berries. Now you are good to go shopping. Eating high fiber carbohydrates “slows digestion and gives you better blood sugar control”. This will keep you satiated and focused on your shopping instead of mindless eating and poor decision shopping. Also carry food with you. You want foods that are “shelf stable” and easy to transport. This includes healthy snacks to give you a boost if you feel your energy levels sagging as the shopping day continues. Pack high quality ingredients that do not contain added sugar.
Examples of easy, good quality foods to carry:
- Carrot and celery sticks with single serving of hummus
- Cherry tomatoes, baby cucumbers and a soft round cheese
- Apple slices, grapes, berries with one ounce serving of almonds or walnuts
- Tuna fish pouch-packed in water with 2-3 whole grain/Wasa crackers
- Home-made popcorn with grated Parmesan cheese
- Jerky stick (watch the sodium content) with 2 whole grain Triscuit crackers
- Keto granola bars
- Unsalted sunflower or pumpkin seeds
If you decide to carry a small cooler in your car you can add hard-boiled eggs, low-fat yogurt or yogurt drinks.
What if you are on insulin?
Your blood sugar may drop when you are on the go and walk all over the mall or store. Be prepared with a glucose source:
- Carry glucose tablets (preferred since it works the fastest). Chew 3.
- Life savers with sugar, not the sugar-free version. Chew 3 soft white ones.
- Mini-raisins (1 box)
- Applesauce (1 pouch)
- Plain water
Great pre-packaged snacks for shopping “on the go”
- From the Ground Up cauliflower crackers
- Bob’s Red Mill oat crackers
- Quinn peanut butter filled pretzel nuggets
- Catalina Crunch Keto-friendly Crunch Mix
- Wasa multi-grain crackers
- Triscuit thin crisps
- Simple Mills sprouted seed crackers
- Zing protein bars
- Late July organic chia and quinoa tortilla chips
Check your blood glucose more frequently than usual to be sure that it is staying within a safe range. Drink plenty of calorie-free beverages to stay hydrated. Make time for lunch. Don’t get caught up in a shopping frenzy. You will definitely need a break and some down time. Regroup in your head. Think about planning a second shopping day since the bargains will still be there. You can review your shopping list and update it while you eat. This should help make your day a more pleasant experience.
Oh, My Aching Feet!
Light exercise like walking offers excellent benefits for your health. It can reduce stress and improve glucose control. Walking uses blood sugar to feed the muscles that do the work. It also improves the body’s ability to use insulin. Exercise will increase your metabolic rate and increase calorie expenditure. Walking is one of the best choices for exercise since it won’t stress your joints and you will check off your shopping list at the same time. Maybe shop-walking will help you start an actual exercise routine. Once the holiday season is over, you may want to power walk in the mall before it opens, so you are not tempted to shop. Each time you walk add a few minutes to your total time. Use your smartphone, which can automatically track your steps. If you do inject insulin, remember that walking may lower your total insulin needs; talk to your physician if you do incorporate a walking plan, so they are aware.
This marathon shopping can be hard on the feet. Shoppers may end up walking for miles from one end of the mall to the other and back again. Know when you need to take a break. Sit down as often as needed to rest your tired feet. It’s also a good idea to wear shoes and socks that are designed for people with diabetes. Certain foot conditions may make feet painful and walking difficult without the correct footwear. You should take extra precautions when you purchase shoes and socks. Think about visiting a podiatrist who specializes in feet and foot care. They can help you to alleviate the stress on your feet.
You don’t necessarily need “special diabetes shoes” unless your podiatrist recommends them. Diabetes shoes are wider with a deeper toe box. They also have special inserts or insoles that are made specially for your feet. “Medicare may pay for all or a portion of your diabetes shoes. The part B Medicare deductible still applies. For Medicare to cover your diabetes shoes, your podiatrist needs to medically recommend them.” The shoes are more expensive since they are a custom fit. Check with your podiatrist.
What can custom inserts do for your feet?
- Manage foot pain
- Protect feet
- Offer additional padding
- Help foot bones from shifting
- Provide stability
- Assist with balance
- Offer shock absorption
If you do not need custom inserts, you may want to purchase OTC ones. Make sure they are a comfortable fit. Look for shoes with an arch support and nice thick non-slip soles. Make sure if you have bunions or hammertoes, they are accommodated and not crushed in your shoes. Find shoe fabrics which allow for air circulation and are breathable. Suede, leather, and canvas are the best for breathability. Vinyl and rubber, although cheaper are not recommended when you have diabetes; it causes your feet to perspire and increases the risk of Athlete’s foot, fungus, and foot odor.
If you can’t reach your feet to lace up your shoes, consider Velcro straps or easy slip-ons that do not fold in the heel. Check shoe brands such as New Balance, Dr. Comfort, Skecher’s, Rockport, Brook’s or Orthofeet. These brands make high quality shoes which offer comfort and foot protection. Socks should always be worn to protect your foot from the shoe. Purchase ones with added cushioning in the ball and heel area. Make sure they do not have tight elastic tops which can affect your circulation. Look for moisture-wicking fabrics (like synthetic blends) which will decrease foot perspiration. Sprinkle shoes with cornstarch powder to keep feet dry.
Before putting on your shoes for your shopping outing, check feet for swelling, blisters, or open cuts. Always check the bottom of your feet before putting on your socks. Moisturize (except between toes) them to prevent dryness and cracking – especially during these winter months. Finally, check your feet thoroughly when you get home for calluses or injuries.
Eating on the Go
Where do you usually end up eating when you’re bustling through the mall? The food courts. Don’t let bad food choices spell disaster for your diabetes management. One way to cope is by deciding what you’re going to eat beforehand and then looking for that item at the various restaurants. Most places offer something healthy on the menu; use your willpower to choose that grilled chicken salad instead of a gigantic slice of fat-ladened pizza. If you do choose pizza (which is not off limits), choose a thin crust cheese slice, and add veggie toppings instead of sausage and pepperoni.
During the holidays, many food court selections center around pumpkin or maple syrup laced coffees and peppermint hot chocolate drinks, each with 500-600 calories. Special cakes, pies, exotic candies and other holiday sweets seem like they are everywhere. There are glazed dipped donuts, double ½ pound cheeseburgers, cinnamon rolls, salt coated, or sugar dipped hot pretzels, deep-fried Chinese chicken with fried rice, ice cream novelties, and 1000 calorie cheese drenched burritos in extra-large tortillas. These food choices will take 4 hours of mall walking to burn off. No matter how much mall walking and shopping you do, it will not make up for some of the high fat, high sodium and sugar-laden food court choices. Make reasonable selections that taste good but are not full of empty calories. Full-service, sit-down restaurants and fast food chains with 20 or more stores now must have food calorie listings on their menus. Calorie listings are also slowly making their way to the mall food court. You may be able to check numbers on your phone in some eateries.
Other things you should do concerning eating food in the mall
- Watch your portion sizes.
- Split an entrée with a shopping buddy or wrap up half of that oversized sandwich to take home.
- Don’t be shy about asking for special preparation or substitutions if needed, even at a busy counter. Your health is too important to fret about causing a minor inconvenience to the people serving you. Many people now have special requests.
- Do not come starving. That just causes you to make poor choices and overeat.
- Stay hydrated with water, sparkling water, unsweetened tea or black coffee.
- And if you’re the type who likes to “shop till you drop”, don’t forget to eat! Eating on your regular schedule is crucial for maintaining blood sugar levels.
- Be choosy. Ask for light dressings or plain olive oil and vinegar for your salads.
- Eat a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with mustard, lettuce and tomato.
- Have a spinach wrap with hummus, sprouts and avocado.
- Find a salad place and load up on raw vegetables, dark green lettuce (instead of iceberg) which gives you more nutrients, chicken, sliced hardboiled egg, garbanzo beans and add a bit of quinoa or brown rice. Add olives and peppers instead of cheese and croutons. Ask for a lettuce wrap or rye bread instead of a big Brioche bun. Think about a veggie patty instead of a greasy beef hamburger.
- Choose a junior hamburger instead of a ½ pounder.
- Eat a bowl of vegetable/bean soup instead of a cream-based soup.
- Drink a no-fat or low-fat Latte coffee drink instead of a high-carbohydrate fruit smoothie.
- Look for turkey and bean chili and order a cup instead of a bowl. Ask for an unsalted soft pretzel and dip in plain yellow mustard.
- Eat a no-added-sugar frozen yogurt and add chopped or unsalted nuts and fresh berries.
- Avoid the loaded baked potato with melted cheese, bacon bits and sour cream; ask for the potato to be filled with broccoli, chives, peppers and some salsa; less fat and more flavor.
- Look for cauliflower crust pizza and low-fat toppings. Add shrimp, fresh tomato slices and arugula with a bit of Mozzarella cheese.
Remember, high quality protein and whole grain carbohydrates will give you the energy you need to keep pushing thru the stores. Sit while you eat. Find a table instead of eating on the run which leads to mindless eating and poor shopping skills. All these tips can make a huge difference nutritionally and help you avoid weight gain and messed up blood sugars. The food court has expanded with lots of excellent choices. Think before you make your food selection. Black Friday doesn’t have to leave a black mark on your health. With a little preparation and a lot of common sense, you can enjoy the day, week, month, season of holiday shopping – and maybe even come away with some bargains!