10 Tips To Survive The Holidays
When many of us think of how we celebrate our holiday’s traditions, it often revolves around food. For some, this may span over several months, starting with leftover Halloween candy, thanksgiving feasts, Christmas cookies, and ending after the New Year toasts. During the holiday season, it is important to still be mindful to prevent both weight gain and Hemoglobin A1c levels from creeping up, but at the same time to still enjoy your holiday festivities. In general, having a plan in place can make many situations you encounter, including the holidays, easier to get through without sabotaging your health. Below are 10 tips to help survive the holiday season:
1. Identify barriers
Ask yourself what you have struggled with previous years? Did you have an increase in weight or Hemoglobin A1c? What situations were most challenging to you? If you are able to identify some past issues, it may be easier to come up with ways to overcome these challenges.
2. Planning ahead
This is always important, but especially around the holiday season. Try to plan where you will be, what food options are available, and how your diabetes will fit in. When possible, if you know what food is being offered, you can decide which foods are most acceptable to you or opt to bring a healthier option. Consider all the foods available, and which ones would specifically spike your blood sugar.
3. Recipe modifications
If you are doing any food prep, try to make healthier swaps to cut down on calories and carbohydrates but still provide flavor!
4. Portion control
If you do not know the options, survey the food table prior to digging in and decide which foods you would like to spend your carbs on. Try to be mindful with your carb portion sizes (including appetizers, beverages, and desserts), since these foods often spike your blood sugar.
- Avoid standing around the food table to prevent from picking or grazing.
- Try using smaller plates, since the larger the plate the more food it can pack on!
- Do not skip meals prior! As much as you would like to save up all of our calories and carbohydrates for one big feast, this often backfires and contributes to large portions.
5. Plate method
Measuring carb intake or counting carbohydrates may be tricky, especially at holiday functions. Try applying the food plate method - ¼ of the plate of lean protein, ¼ of the plate carbohydrates, and ½ the plate of non-starchy vegetables.
6. Cut the beverages!
Sure, those seasonal beverages are very tasty, but also packed with calories and carbohydrates. Beware of apple cider, egg nog, hot chocolate, juices, sodas and alcohol since they may contribute to both hyperglycemia and weight gain.
7. MOVE more
Unfortunately, adding in activity does NOT mean we can eat endless portions of desserts! However, adding in more physical activity can help burn calories and help with blood glucose control. Even smaller increments over the course of the day can add up. (Hint: try using a pedometer on your phone or wearing one to help remind you of daily activity).
8. Increase blood sugar checks
Many individuals do not like to check blood sugars in general, let alone after a nice holiday meal, when it is often above target. It is important to check more frequently, to remind you of current levels. This also might help you make healthier food choices and control portions.
9. Diabetes medications
Especially if you are attending a holiday gathering or social event elsewhere, remember to bring your diabetes medications. The timing of certain meal time medications such as insulin and glipizide are crucial to take pre meal, just as you would at home. Make sure you are not taking medication too long before the meal to prevent hypoglycemia!
10. Allow time daily for your health
With the craziness of the holidays, it is very easy to put your health and diabetes on the back burner. Make sure to schedule some time daily to stay focused on your health and diabetes. Make sure to allow time for a good night’s sleep, stress management, exercise, meal planning, checking blood sugars, taking medications, and following up with appropriate appointments. You can also set realistic daily or weekly goals for yourself to stay on track.
Have a happy and HEALTHY holiday season!
Has diabetes changed your exercise routine?