Turkey and all the trimmings, cakes and cookies, egg nog and wine – and of course, spending quality time with your nearest and dearest; yes, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. Despite all of the wonderful things that come along with the holidays, if you’re a diabetic, managing all the sweets, treats, and other types of eats that so many indulge on during these special gatherings, can be challenging, to say the least. Why? Because you obviously don’t want to run the risk of making your blood sugar go crazy, of course.
Fortunately, with proper planning, you can successfully manage your diabetes and make the most of your family gatherings. With the holidays’ fast approaching, here are some tips that you can use to avoid sending your glucose levels out of what during Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years’, and any other holiday you celebrate.
Focus on the reason for the season
Keep the reason for the holiday season at the forefront of your mind: gathering and making memories with family and friends. Food is, of course, a part of the festivities, but a lot of people tend to put too much emphasis on the food, and when that happens, they can easily over-indulge. Take the focus off the food and instead, remember the primary goal of getting together with your loved ones is celebrating all of the blessings you share.
To spend less time in the kitchen, around the table, and sitting in the living room munching on hors d’oeuvres, main courses, side dishes, and sweets, plan some group activities. Plan a game of football, baseball, or even a family hike or a walk around the neighborhood. Get everyone involved in playing a big game of hide-and-seek (or flashlight tag after dark). Pull out the cards and board games. Give classic games like Pictionary or charades a-go. These types of activities will not only take the focus off the food, thus reducing temptation and the risk of throwing your blood sugar for a loop; plus, you and your family and friends will be bound to share some great laughs and will make memories that will last a lifetime.
Consider bringing your own dish
If you’re going to be a guest at someone else’s house for the holidays, talk to the host ahead of time to discuss your dietary requirements. Asking someone else to prepare special food to meet your needs isn’t recommended (though your loved ones may offer on their own), as you’ll only be putting more responsibility on their shoulders, and let’s face it – hosting a holiday gathering can involve a lot of work and be quite overwhelming. Instead, offer to make your own dish. Put together a diabetes-friendly appetizer, entrée, side dish, or even a dessert, and bring it to the festivities to share with your loved ones. Whatever you make, be sure to bring more than enough to share with everyone.
By bringing a dish to the event, you’ll not only know that there will be something that’s safe to eat, but you’ll also help to take some of the burden off of the hosts shoulders by bringing something to put on the table.
Treat yourself – but be smart
Just because it’s a holiday, that doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all and that you can completely ditch your diabetes diet for the day; however, that’s not to say that you should deprive yourself completely. Fill your plate with things that you know are safe for your blood sugar, but leave a bit of room for a small treat or two. For instance, you might want to ask the host ahead of time what’s on the menu or do a scan of the table when you sit down. Pick something that perhaps isn’t the most diabetic-friendly that you’d really like to indulge in – a slice of pumpkin pie or rainbow cookies, for example – and make sure that you stick to eating the same amount of carbs (or perhaps a bit less) that you normally eat so that you can safely eat that treat without putting your health in danger.
Whether you’re the host or the guest, munch on some healthy snacks ahead of time. If you have hunger pangs, once the food hits the table, chances are you’re going to over-indulge on high-carb foods. Eat a light diabetic-friendly brunch, lunch, or snack before the holiday festivities commence; some nuts, pumpkin seeds, raw veggies dipped in dressing or hummus, a salad, and/or cheese, for example. By doing so, you won’t be starved and you’ll be less likely to make unwise food choices.
Stick to small portions
Like most holiday dinner tables, yours is probably filled with foods that are laden with carbohydrates; mashed potatoes, yams, stuffing, rolls, and pies, for example. There’s no denying that these foods are tasty, but they aren’t good for diabetics (obviously). You don’t have to completely avoid these foods all together; rather, you can take smaller portions in order to enjoy them. Take no more than 2 tablespoons of carb-heavy items, and if there are several carb-rich dishes that you want to enjoy, consider cutting it back to 1 tablespoon of each.
Watch your alcohol intake
Alcohol is a staple at most holiday gatherings. While egg nog, martinis, wine, spiked cider, or beer may make the celebration more festive, drinking too much can make your blood sugar dip and increase your triglyceride levels; not to mention the fact that if you over-indulge, things can get a little sloppy. In order to keep your diabetes in-check, keep an eye on the number of libations you imbibe. Sticking to no more than 2 alcoholic beverages, and sipping them while you’re eating, is highly recommended.
Keep tabs on your blood sugar levels
A holiday is a break from your regular routine, and while there’s no denying that you deserve a break, eating and drinking foods and beverages that you don’t normally consume – and over-indulging in those foods and drinks – can obviously have a disastrous impact on your diabetes. During your holiday events, keeping a close watch on your blood sugar levels is a must.
With some proper planning ahead of time, you can enjoy a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season with your loved ones without having to deprive yourself of those yummy goodies. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the time with your family and friends.