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5 Tips for Managing Your Diabetes Over the Holidays

November 28, 2023 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Man filling his plate with sweets and a Christmas tree in the background

With all the rich foods and sweet treats of the holidays, it’s easy for the pounds to creep on. Fortunately, there are ways those living with diabetes can stay on track this season no matter what’s cooking.

If you’re struggling to make healthy food choices when everyone else is splurging, you’re not alone. Nearly half (49%) of people with Type 2 diabetes said managing their condition during a typical fall and winter holiday season is more difficult than other times of the year, according to a survey for the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association. 

The Diabetes Control Center at Huntsville Hospital shares five tips on how to stick to your diabetes meal plan this season.

Think ahead

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Though we don’t know what inspired those famous words, they hold true to so much in life – even the foods we eat!

While you can’t always control what holiday foods you’re served, you can and should make a plan that not only helps you enjoy the foods of the season but keeps your blood sugar levels steady.

For example, if your holiday feast is later than your normal mealtime, don’t wait to eat. Have a small snack at the usual time and eat a little less when your meal is served.

If you’re invited to a party or gathering, bring a diabetes-friendly dish you know will be satisfying and won’t drive up your blood sugar.

Don’t skip meals

It can be tempting to skip meals before your big holiday meal, but doing so will likely set you up for overeating.

Why? Because skipping meals to save calories and carbs will only make you hungrier and increase your chances of overindulging later. It may also result in unstable blood sugar readings.

To avoid this, try eating sensible meals at your regular mealtimes and healthy snacks in between.  

Beat the buffet

If you’re facing a buffet this season, don’t fret. Those with diabetes can still enjoy a delicious holiday spread without throwing their meal plan off course.

Be sure to load up on vegetables you love and save some room for favorites but keep portions small. It takes your body 20 minutes to realize it’s full, so eat slowly to ensure you don’t overdo it.

Finally, move away from the buffet table after your meal is over to avoid mindless eating. Out of sight, out of mind!

Satisfy your sweet tooth

Want to indulge in a sweet treat? No problem! No food is on the naughty list this year.

To stay on top of your blood sugar while enjoying something sweet, simply reduce the amount of carbs like potatoes and bread you eat during lunch or dinner. Better yet, bring your own dessert that is sugar-free or lower in sugar to keep your diet in check.

Take care of yourself

The holidays are a busy time, so be sure to prioritize sleep and physical activity to feel your best throughout the season.

Don’t have time for a full workout? Even short, 10-minute walks a few times a day will help keep you on track for a healthy holiday season.

In addition to a restful night’s sleep, be sure to set aside some “me” time every day for a nap, dog walk or hot bath to get your energy back for the next celebration.

Need help managing your diabetes? At HH Health, we’ve got you covered. Visit our Diabetes Control Center to learn how you can start feeling better today.