It can be hard to stick to your diabetes meal plan when everyone else is splurging on holiday treats. Rich, tempting foods are everywhere and holiday travels can disrupt your normal schedule.
Set yourself up for success by planning ahead. Here are 5 healthy tips for managing your diabetes this holiday season.
Tip 1. Make (and Share) a Holiday Plan
As the holiday season approaches, brainstorm a plan to maintain a consistent blood sugar level and prevent becoming overly stressed or exhausted. It’s a good idea to actually write down or type out the plan, so your friends and family can help when you’re struggling.
A good diabetes holiday plan includes:
- Keeping blood sugar steady by eating close to your usual times.
- Eating a small snack if you know a meal will occur off schedule.
- Bringing a healthy dish to pitch-ins, so you know you’ll have a good meal option.
- Enjoying small portions of sweet treats, and reduce other carbs-heavy foods during the same meal.
- Never skipping meals.
- Being resilient. If you get off track during one meal or celebration, don’t throw away the whole plan. Get back on track with the next meal.
- Enlisting the help of a friend or family member to support your plan and prevent well-meaning people from pressuring you to slip up.
Tip 2. Create Healthy Plates
Portion control is important for people with diabetes. Eating too much, or eating too much of certain things, can have a negative impact on your blood sugar.
As you build plates of food during the holiday season, imagine that they are divided into four sections. Follow this layout:
¼ Plate for Lean Protein: skinless turkey and chicken, lean beef, fish, beans, lentils
¼ Plate for Carbohydrates: grains, pasta, potatoes, bread
½ Plate for Green Vegetables: non-starch veggies like salad, broccoli, green beans, asparagus
Tip 3. Keep Moving
Avoid the urge to be sedentary during the holidays. Heavy meals and cold weather might make you feel like curling up under a blanket, but you still need at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise three times per week. Break it up into 15-minute periods, if you prefer.
Remember, exercise isn’t just about compensating for calories and keeping your blood sugar stable. It’s also helpful for managing stress, which can be part of the holidays.
Tip 4. Get Extra Sleep
You may need extra sleep to compensate for a disrupted holiday schedule. Poor sleep makes it difficult to control your blood sugar, because sleep deprivation affects the hormones in your body.
Over time, sleep loss creates a tendency to seek out high-fat, high-sugar foods. It also makes you feel more stressed, which can lead to unhealthy food choices.
Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night to guard against mindless eating and promote stable blood sugar.
Tip 5. Take Small Steps to Success
Staying healthy around the holidays is about making lots of small, positive choices. Here are some examples:
- Stick to pumpkin pie. It’s much lower in fat and sugar than most other holiday pies, like pecan pie, fruit pies, and sugar cream pie.
- Budget for sweets. Instead of having dessert in addition to your meal, reduce your sugary/carby intake during the meal to account for having dessert afterward.
- Walk after meals. Take a slow-paced 20 minute walk after meals, to prevent becoming sedentary. Invite family members along!
- Limit alcohol. Don’t allow other people to refill your wine glass. Limit your alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and two for men
- Consider a mobile app. There are many web and mobile apps that can help you manage your diabetes and diet. They’re very helpful around the holidays, when you’re encountering foods outside your normal routine.
If you need extra help managing your diabetes this holiday season, reach out to Johnson Memorial Health.