Holiday planning for diabetes

If you have diabetes, it can be a challenge to be health conscious during the holidays.

It can be very difficult to be health conscious this time of year as food and festivity will always be a major part of the holiday season. It’s an especially challenging time of year for those who have diabetes. The American Diabetes Association provides tips and guidelines to help diabetics enjoy the foods associated with the holidays, while still staying healthy.

If you have diabetes, one of the most important things you can do is plan ahead. The American Diabetes Association recommends that you look at your schedule during the holiday season and plan accordingly. Think about how you can adjust your menu to lower the amount of fat, sugar and carbohydrates that are in your favorite foods. Don’t forget to watch your portion sizes, keeping track of the amount of food that you put on your plate can help prevent the inevitable weight gain that often occurs this time of year. If it looks like you will be going to a lot of parties and/or events where food will be served, you may want to consult with your health care provider to look at whether or not adjustments to your medication or insulin need to be made.             

The American Diabetes Association also provides these seven holiday tips:

  1. Focus on friends and family instead of food. Instead of putting a high emphasis on what kind of food to serve or eat, focus on enjoying and catching up with loved ones.
  2. It’s a party, but don’t overdo it. Remember to eat slowly and enjoy the foods that are served this time of year. Keep track of your carbohydrates and control your portions.
  3. Eat before you eat. Avoid skipping meals and snacks in order to “save” your calories and carbs for a party or event that occurs later in the day. Starving yourself will not only make you more likely to overeat, it could affect your blood glucose levels.
  4. Bring what you like. Instead of worrying about what will be served, bring your favorite low-calorie, low-fat dish that is diabetes-friendly.
  5. Drink in moderation. Remember that alcoholic holiday drinks are high in calories. If you decide to drink, eat something beforehand to help prevent low blood glucose levels.
  6. Stay active. Don’t forget to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Even though the holidays can be busy, take time to visit the gym, ride your bike or go for a walk.
  7. If you overindulge, get back on track. Don’t get discouraged if you eat more carbs or food than you intended to. Work towards increasing your activity level, monitor your blood glucose levels and be more mindful of your eating habits during the day.

Michigan State University Extension offers diabetes programs that educate on proper eating to manage the condition, such as Dining with Diabetes. For more information about meal planning, fitting in sweets and dealing with stress during the holiday season, check the American Diabetes Association website at

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