As a nation we tend to overindulge during the holidays. We let slide our health practices, even if we are usually quite dedicated to a good diet and high level of fitness. We are often surrounded by holiday goodies. I have a sign hanging in my vet clinic asking clients to not bring in goodies over the holidays, no matter how much they like us. To get a chuckle out of them, I sign it as ‘The Grinch’ even though I’m serious. And if you are traveling to see family for the holidays, it is even harder to exercise and eat well when in airports or on long drives and staying at hotels. So then we get on the bandwagon of heath come the new year!

For many years I wrote a long list of things I would do to better myself in the coming year. I was ridiculous. Then I went through a phase when I skipped ‘New Years’ resolutions altogether. Recently I’ve tried to pick just one. I found if I made too long of a list I’d just feel guilty if I failed at them. Nobody is perfect after all. The last two years I’ve had the same resolution: Avoid sugar. Mostly I do pretty well. I choose this resolution because my father had diabetes and passed away due to the complications of diabetes. And now my mom has Alzheimer’s, which is very much a nutritional disease, decades in the making. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a zealot or anything. Nonetheless, I adhere to some simple practices. I try to eat bread or pasta no more than once a week. I rarely eat sweets other than fruit. And I try my best to eat food in its natural form which means I eat lots of veggies. Avoiding processed food and sugar will again be my resolution for myself this new year. Now that I’m on the other side of fifty, I’m sincerely trying to avoid the downfalls that plagued my parents. You say, Joi, three years in a row? I say, practice makes perfect!

We all have a bad habit we’d like to kick. Maybe you smoke. Maybe you can’t resist fancy purses even if they are beyond your budget. Maybe you watch too much television. Whatever “bad habit” that you can honestly admit, even if just to yourself, should go. Don’t pick so many that they get lost two weeks into January. Be selective. Be honest. And stick to it. You will feel a sense of pride when you dedicate yourself to a life without this habit.

Now how do we translate this for our pets? Most of you who read this newsletter have a diabetic pet. You run the gamut from extremely conscientious who would never dream of giving an insulin shot without knowing the blood glucose right then to lackadaisical where maybe you check a curve once a year. Regardless of which best describes you or if you are somewhere in between these extremes, you probably have a downfall. Maybe you give your diabetic pet snacks from your plate in between your pet’s meals. Maybe you lack consistency in your routine and sometimes miss your pet’s insulin doses due to your schedule. Maybe you know you should take your pet in for a dental cleaning, but fear the bills that might come with that. Maybe you don’t take your dog for regular exercise. Only you know your patterns.

Years ago while in vet school I heard a funny line by a psychologist brought in to lower vet students’ stress level. We were told that high functioning people often felt like they needed to be perfect at everything and how that can stress them out. The speaker then proceeded to tell us, “Don’t should on yourself.”

So, as we leave the holidays laden with gluttony, let’s be selective in our resolutions. Pick one thing. Don’t should on yourself. Make a change for you that matters and that you can keep. And maybe make a change for your pet’s diabetes care if needed as well.

Have a question or comment? Then post below! I always enjoy hearing from my readers!

NOTE: Consult your veterinarian first to make sure my recommendations fit your pets special health needs.

Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr. Joi Sutton is a 1993 graduate from Oregon State University. She has practiced both in emergency medicine and general practice. Dr. Sutton has done extensive international volunteer work though Veterinary Ventures, a nonprofit organization that takes teams of veterinarians to undeveloped countries for humane medical care. She also runs a small animal practice in South Florida.
Dr . Joi Sutton