Images of holiday gatherings often focus on excessive amounts of food and sedentary behavior – two things that can lead to problems when you have diabetes. Avoid these temptations by substituting positive behaviors for negative ones. Learn fun ways to make your own holiday cheer when you have diabetes.
- You worked hard all year to maintain optimum health and you don’t want to panic about holiday parties. Eating too much or indulging in the wrong foods can lead to weight gain, blood sugar fluctuations and stress about your health after the holidays are over. With a bit of planning, you can enjoy the holidays without packing on the pounds. For example, have healthy diabetic foods on-hand at all times to ward off the temptation to munch on salty or sugary holiday snacks. Bring a fruit or vegetable platter to parties to ensure you have something healthy to nibble on.
- The hectic holiday schedule of shopping, parties and good times can lead to sleep deprivation. When you are tired, you often mistake that feeling for hunger and wind up eating more than you should. Make sure to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. If you are properly rested, you have more energy to exercise and monitor your eating habits.
- Get support to help you maintain healthy habits throughout the holiday season. Make plans to workout with a friend or relative who is also making healthy lifestyle changes. Participate in support groups or online forums that encourage exercise and good eating habits. Join your neighbor who goes out for a daily walk in the evenings. Volunteer to walk the dog and play with the kids outside to make sure you fit exercise into your day.
- Oftentimes, thirst is mistaken for hunger. During the summer the heat makes us drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. You also need fluids during the winter when it gets chilly outside. Keep a water bottle handy. If you are cold, sip warm herbal tea without sweeteners. Beverages can often take the place of the snacks we crave. Make sure to include three meals and two snacks into your day (no mid- day snacks if you are on basal/bolus insulin injections). Fruit or a handful of nuts are great holiday snacks that won’t make you feel guilty or deprived. Do not get hungry which will make you over eat at the next meal. Minimize your intake of alcohol and caffeinated drinks such as coffee and wine.
- The fast pace of holiday shopping and visiting could mean you are burning off more calories than you think. Wear a pedometer to keep track of how much you are moving throughout the day. You may be pleasantly surprised. Create a new tradition after holiday meals and go for a walk rather than sitting in front of the television.
- Focus on family, friends and fun rather than food. Savor each bite of food rather than piling up your plate at the buffet. Choose healthy items such as lean fish or meat, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy. If you can’t resist holiday goodies, know your limits. Have one cookie rather than a half dozen. Check your blood glucose regularly and report any extreme highs or lows to your doctor right away.
- Minimize stress by doing what you want to do for the holidays rather than what you feel you should do. If certain family or friends upset you, discuss your feelings. If you’re on a budget make personalized gifts rather than maxing out your credit cards. Keep in mind that stress can make your blood sugar levels soar. Take steps to reduce the stress in your life during the holidays.
When you focus on healthy living and positive thinking it is easy to make your own holiday cheer when you have diabetes. Be well-prepared and take steps to reduce the stress associated with the holiday season. Your friends and family may admire your sensibility and wind up assuming healthier holiday traditions, too!