Diabetes and the Holidays

As a dietitian I can appreciate how difficult the holidays can be for someone with diabetes. Year round is challenging for those that struggle with blood sugar control, but when you are surrounded by pie, cookies, candy, cakes, carbs, carbs, carbs the holidays can be down right scary.

I have a few tips for those with diabetes and pre-diabetes for this time of year and I hope it helps you get through with level blood sugars and feeling empowered!

  1. Remember it’s not just sugar that increases your glucose. Carbohydrates in any shape or form raise your blood sugars. That is not necessarily a bad thing but the amount is important! Sure the sweets make your glucose go up but so do potatoes, pasta, rice, sweetened beverages, crackers, chips, pretzels and many other foods. Watch your portions.
  2. One cookie may be fine but 3 cookies could make your sugars sky rocket. Know your body and know your limits.
  3. Test, test, test, test, test. Ignorance is not bliss. Know your blood sugars!
  4. Take your medicine/insulin. Again, testing is key but so is being compliant on your medications. If your body needs help controlling blood sugars and your doctor has prescribed you a medication to lower them…take the meds your body needs!
  5. Pair with protein. A meal of cookies, cake, crackers, pie, and fruit punch may land you a trip to the hospital. Lower your portion sizes, pick and choose the carbohydrates you really want to eat, and then pair those carbohydrates with protein. Things like cheese, meats, eggs, and Greek yogurt are great sources of protein.
  6. Don’t waste carbohydrates or calories. If you pick something to eat at a holiday party and it doesn’t taste good Do. Not. Waste. Carbohydrates! Politely throw it away and get something else that you would enjoy.
  7. Alcohol is not a carbohydrate. Contrary to popular belief beer, wine, and liquor will not bring your blood sugars up. Although there are “carbohydrates” on the label alcohol technically digests like a fat so it won’t send your glucose sky high. If you pair alcohol with a sugary beverage then count on the sugary beverage to increase your blood sugars.
  8. Eat regularly. Even if you are going to a big holiday party in the evening, eat a regular breakfast, lunch, and snacks to keep your blood sugars under control.
  9. HbA1c’s don’t lie. Even if your next doctors appointment isn’t until February the HbA1c blood test will tell your doctor an average blood sugar over the last 3 months. He or she will know if the holiday season was tough on your blood sugars! It’s like Santa…it sees you when you’re eating, it knows when you don’t take your medications, so for goodness sake be careful! 🙂
  10. Why do you care what your blood sugars are during the holidays? Because every time your glucose goes too high it impacts your body in a big way. It affects your eyes, heart, kidneys, nerves, and brain especially. Keeping it under control will not only make your doctor happy but it will also make your body happy.

If you need extra help this holiday season go to see your dietitian. Make an appointment to get a game plan for Christmas parties, cookie exchanges, family gatherings, and keeping blood sugars controlled in your every day life. Having trouble finding a dietitian? Check with your local hospital or Find An Expert.