It’s the Christmas season and those with diabetes should approach the season with thoughtful planning in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and keep up with hard-earned healthy habits. Creating a four-part plan for eating, drinking, traveling and activity at Christmas is one strategy recommended by the American Diabetes Association. VRS instructors can assist you in developing your holiday plan – feel free to contact us at any time with questions:
Holiday Eating Plan:
American holidays are typically celebrated with excess food, so it is important to have an eating plan for maintaining healthy glucose levels throughout the season.
- Communicate your dietary needs to the event host
- Offer to bring healthy alternatives to add to the menu
- Have a high protein snack earlier in the day to avoid arriving hungry at the event
How to cut calories, without compromising on taste:
- Remove the skin and eat light-colored meat (breast) rather than dark meat (thigh)
- Make low-carb pigs in a blanket. Use low-fat cocktail sausages and pierce the skins. Instead of wrapping in bread, wrap with lean back-bacon (with the excess fat trimmed off) and grill. Do not fry or bake
- Roast your potatoes; minimize fat by dry-roasting or using spray oil
- Use vegetarian sausage rather than high-fat, high-calorie sausage meat in your stuffing
- Keep to the healthy plate rule: 2/3 of your plate should be vegetables
- Be extra cautious with dessert. Check out this link for dessert ideas. https://www.rd.com/food/recipes-cooking/diabetes-friendly-holiday-desserts/
If you have a higher blood glucose level than normal due to overindulging or changing your routine; don’t worry too much as this shouldn’t affect your long-term diabetes control. Do aim to avoid persistently high readings in order to avoid compromising your hard-earned healthy habits.
Holiday Drinking Guidelines:
Alcohol intake can lower blood glucose levels and increase the risk of a hypoglycemia incident. Check with your doctor or pharmacist regarding how your prescriptions interact with alcohol and adjust your intake accordingly.
- Diabetic men should have a maximum of 3-4 units of alcohol
- Diabetic women a maximum of 2-3 units
- Alternate between alcoholic and diet soft drinks or water can help limit the amount of alcohol you consume and keep you hydrated
- Reduce calories and alcohol units by consuming lower strength wine
- Do not to drink on an empty stomach – this can cause a low blood sugar event
Holiday Travel Tips:
Travelling with diabetes requires some extra planning and, at times, extra luggage! List the items needed for your journey; keep an extra copy on your device or with a loved-one.
- Always take extra supplies in case of an emergency
- Plan for the unexpected: storm and airline delays may require longer stays
- Bring extra insulin, meters, strips, pump supplies, alcohol wipes and Skin Tac wipes. You may also want to bring additional ketone urine strips. Use a Frio or other cooling bag for carrying insulin.
- If you are flying, plan for extra time to go through security
- Get a medical note saying you are allowed to carry diabetes- related supplies onto the airplane
- Carry all of your supplies onto the plane – just in case
- Divide supplies between bags, perhaps between other family members, in case a bag gets lost
- Find out about special precautions from your insulin pump company Most insulin pumps and CGMs cannot be removed and sent through the x-ray machine.
- Wear a medical ID necklace or bracelet
- Carry a list of your doctors’ phone numbers with you
- Have a back-up plan. Always carry syringes even if you are on a pump; if your pump fails you will be okay
- Carry Ziplock bags in case something needs to be put in ice so it doesn’t get all wet (such as a pump or insulin bottles)
- Carry candy, granola bars, glucose tabs, and other low blood sugar foods
- Carry extra batteries for your pump/meter if needed
Keeping Active during the Holidays:
There are lots of easy and fun ways to add in some extra physical activities during the holiday season. Grab a family member up off the couch and check some of these off your list:
- Take a brisk walk with your family after your holiday meal.
- Dance to holiday music.
- Go ice skating at a local or pop up ice rink.
- Shoot a few hoops
- Enjoy the colors or smells with a holiday hike
- Walk the neighborhood and look at lights
- Take a caroling walk in the neighborhood
Introducing activity into your holiday season can help control both blood sugar levels and blood pressure. It also helps us make memories with our families and friends that will last a lifetime. Take some time to make your plan for staying healthy over the holiday season and then go enjoy!