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The holiday season is a time of celebration and togetherness, and for most people, it involves an abundance of food. While that is all the more reason to be excited for some, for people with diabetes it can be stressful. The parties, the dinners, the desserts—the holidays can seem like a fast track to higher blood sugar levels. But with a little planning and preparation, you can find a balance between managing your diabetes and enjoying the season. Here are a few tips to help you better navigate your diabetes and the holidays.
5 Tips for Managing Your Diabetes and the Holidays
A few simple but effective strategies can set you on the right path to managing diabetes and the holidays.
1. Plan Your Meals
If you aren’t the one preparing a holiday meal, ask the host what food it will include and what time it will be served. This will help you time your meals and manage your glucose levels. You may want to bring a snack if you won’t be eating around the time you’d normally take your insulin injection or oral medication. Knowing the menu ahead of time also allows you to gauge the nutritional value of the dishes, choose healthy options, and plan your portion sizes.
2. Check Your Glucose Levels
Checking your glucose levels more often than usual can help you assess how well your holiday game plan is working. Holiday meals, which tend to be carb-heavy, can quickly raise your blood sugar as your body breaks the carbs down into glucose during digestion. A few extra checks throughout the day will let you know if carbs are affecting your levels so you can adjust your meals or insulin accordingly. Talk to your healthcare provider about glucose management strategies if you use therapies other than insulin.
To make regular testing easier, consider switching to an all-in-one blood glucose monitor like the POGO Automatic®, which eliminates the need to carry separate lancets and test strips, allowing you to check in just one simple step.
3. Stay Active
Staying active will help you manage your blood sugar levels and prevent weight gain. Keeping up with your regular exercise routine during the holidays can be a challenge, but there are things you can do to make sure you’re moving. Take a walk after big meals. Go ice skating. Join a game of flag football. If you’re attending a holiday party, you can count dancing as part of your daily exercise.
4. Get Some Rest
The holidays can wreak havoc on your sleep. Travel, stress, parties, or family gatherings that stretch long into the night can make it difficult to get enough rest. But lack of sleep can increase your blood sugar levels and compromise your well-being. Be sure to prioritize rest, and try getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
5. Prepare for Emergencies
When planning how to manage diabetes and the holidays, people taking insulin need to be prepared for sudden changes in the schedule. Having a backup kit can be helpful, especially if you are away from home.
You should always pack with your specific needs in mind, but here are a few general suggestions:
- Extra insulin
- Ice or a cooling pack to store your insulin
- Extra glucose meter
- Continuous glucose monitor supplies (if necessary)
- Extra lancets and test strips (if separate from your meter)
- Alcohol wipes
- Insulin pump supplies (if necessary)
- Spare batteries (if required by your meter or insulin pump)
- Glucose tablets (to treat hypoglycemia)
Following these five tips can help keep your diagnosis from feeling like a burden during the holiday season.
Remember that while these tips are a starting point, they don’t outweigh any medical advice from your physician.
Navigating diabetes and the holidays takes a bit of extra work, but having a plan will help you protect your health while you enjoy the holidays. Remember to be gentle with yourself. If you get off course, do the best you can to take care of yourself and get back on track. With the right strategies and support, you can stay safe and have fun during this festive season.