The holidays are a joyful time. Friends and family gather with a focus on tradition, togetherness, and, well, food! It can be difficult to navigate the “most wonderful time of the year” when you are a person living with diabetes. You’ve worked hard to manage your diabetes all year, so let’s focus on some tips to keep the holidays from throwing you off course. With some advanced planning and preparation, you can still enjoy time around the table with family and friends without compromising your blood sugar goals.
1. Stay on Schedule
Holidays have their own timelines, with large meals often served in the mid-afternoon. It can be tempting to skip breakfast or lunch in preparation for the big meal, but don’t be deceived! Skipping meals can make it more difficult to manage your blood sugar throughout the day. Try to eat something- even if it’s just a small, healthy snack- at the same time you typically would on an average day.
2. Be Active
Big holiday meals usually lead to lazy days, but that doesn’t have to be the case! Start a new tradition of a neighborhood walk, nature hike nearby, or family game of kickball in the backyard. Moving your body will help to regulate your system and reset your mind, helping you to avoid overindulging in food and drink that may throw off your blood sugar.
3. Choose Vegetables First
Oh, the tempting treats and mouth-watering carbs of the holidays! Try to fill a large space on your plate with vegetables first, to help offset any indulgences during the meal. These foods will make your plate colorful and well-balanced, and you’ll feel more energy and vitality after the meal is over. Choose fruits and vegetables that are served raw, grilled, or steamed. Limit your bites of vegetables that are prepared in creams, gravies, or butter.
4. Eat Small Portions
There’s no need to completely skip out on the holiday dishes that you know and love. This is why your meals and snacks earlier in the day are important because you will go into the big meal with a normal, manageable amount of hunger– and that’s good! Aim for 2-3 bites of the dishes that are high in fats, sugars, and carbohydrates. Ask yourself, is there a high-fat item on the menu that I can skip this year? And opt out of something that you don’t consider an essential holiday treat.
5. Be Careful With Your Cup
Don’t become so focused on your plate that you overlook what’s going on in your glass! At holiday gatherings, drinks are often flowing. It can be difficult to remain mindful about what you’re consuming. If you do indulge in alcohol, try to enjoy it during a meal. Choose just one drink and enjoy it purposefully and slowly, truly savoring it.
Being mindful of your consumption during the holidays isn’t meant to burst your bubble or rain on your Thanksgiving Day parade! The goal is to help you stay on track, maintain your healthy choices, and reduce post-indulgence guilt that is all-too-common over the holidays. We hope these tips will help you to enjoy the traditional foods of the season in a way that prioritizes your overall health and wellbeing.