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5 Tips for Managing Diabetes During the Holidays

Family enjoying Thanksgiving dinnerUse these tips as a road map for managing your diabetes while making the most of the holiday season.

'Tis the season for family, festivity, and food—lots of food. Temptations are all around, and parties and travel can disrupt daily routines. That means it's also the season when eating healthy, staying active, and taking medication on schedule is harder to do. Here are 5 tips to help you ring in the new year feeling good while staying on track.

1. Stick to Your Plan

Managing your diabetes during the holidays should be the same as managing it every day, with a few exceptions. You won't always be able to control what food you're served, and you're bound to see other people indulging. Prepare for the extra challenges and you'll handle them well:

  • Eat, be physically active, and take your medication close to the usual times.
  • Invited to a party? Offer to bring a healthy dish along.
  • If you have a sweet treat, cut back on other carbohydrates (like potatoes and bread) during the meal.
  • 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.
  • If you slip up, get right back to healthy eating with your next meal.

2. Stay in Control

When you face a spread of delicious holiday food, you'll find healthy choices easier to make if you:

  • Have a small plate of the foods you like best and then move away from the buffet table.
  • Start with vegetables to take the edge off your appetite.
  • Slow down and savor. It takes time for your brain to realize you're full.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol. If you do have an alcoholic drink, have it with food. Alcohol can lower blood sugar and interact with diabetes medicines.

Also plan to stay in control of your blood sugar. Check it more often during the holidays and adjust your medication if needed.

3. Fit in Favorites

You can have some of your favorite foods as long as you limit how big the portion is and how often you have it. Choose foods you really love and can't get any other time of year, like Aunt Edna's pecan pie. Indulge in a small serving, and make sure to count it in your meal plan.

Family walking in park

Getting active is a good move for the whole family.

4. Stay Active

It's easy to put physical activity last on the list during the holiday rush, but being active is always time well spent. Get moving with friends and family, such as taking a walk after a holiday dinner. Being active can help make up for eating more than usual, and it reduces stress during one of the most stressful times of the year.

5. Get Enough Sleep

If you go out more often and stay out later during the holidays, you're likely to get less sleep. Sleep loss can make it harder to control your blood sugar. And when you're sleep deprived, you'll tend to eat more, and prefer high-fat, high-sugar food. Aim for 7 to 8 hours per night to guard against mindless eating.

Most of all, remember what the season is about—celebrating and connecting with the people you care about. When you focus more on the fun, you won't focus as much on the food.