Healthy Eating and the Holidays

Key points

'Tis the season for family, festivity, and food—lots of food. How do you manage diabetes during the holidays when food temptations are just about everywhere? Try these tips to help you stick to your diabetes meal plan this holiday season.

Colorful holiday plate on a table

Holiday-proof your plan

You may not be able to control what food you're served, and you're going to see other people eating tempting treats. Meet the challenges armed with a plan:

  • Eat close to your usual times to keep your blood sugar steady. Eat a small snack at your usual mealtime if needed, and have a little less when dinner is served.
  • Invited to a party? Offer to bring a healthy dish along.
  • Plan your carb choices in advance. For example, if you're going to have a sweet treat, cut back on other carbs like potatoes, bread, or pasta dishes.
  • Don't skip meals to save up for a feast. When you're really hungry you might be more likely to overeat.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol. If you do have an alcoholic drink, avoid sugary mixers like juice or soda and eat food.
  • Don't forget to check your blood sugar, even in the middle of holiday festivities.

Outsmart the buffet

When you face a spread of delicious holiday food, make healthy choices easier:

  • Fill at least half your plate with vegetables and leave less room for unhealthy food.
  • Eat slowly. It takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to realize you're full, so take your time before deciding if you want seconds.
  • Don't forget to drink plenty of water.

No food is on the naughty list

  • You can still enjoy your favorite holiday treats in moderation. Focus on dishes you really love and can't get any other time of year.
  • Sometimes there are too many holiday treats to fit into one meal. Instead of overeating, ask your host if you can take a favorite treat home for later.

Keep moving

  • Being active is your secret holiday weapon. It can help you digest your food better and reduce stress.
  • You may not have time for a long walk, but even 10 minutes after a big meal helps.
  • Invite friends and family to join you when you're staying active around the holidays.

Support your friends and family with diabetes

  • If you're hosting a holiday meal, offer holiday classics and healthier alternatives.
  • Try leaving sauces, dressings, and toppings on the side so your guests can customize.
  • Managing diabetes is different for everyone. You can offer support to your friends and family with diabetes when they're managing their condition. Even just listening can be helpful. But avoid telling them what they should and shouldn't eat.

Remember what the holidays are about‎

The holidays are about so much more than food. They're also about celebrating, reflecting on another year gone by, and being together with family and friends.