Managing Diabetes During the Holiday Season
The holidays are a season filled with parties, travel, food and drink. For those with diabetes, it can feel like you are trying to navigate a mine field. Preparation is the key to managing diabetes during the holidays. With thoughtful planning you can enjoy happy and healthy holiday gatherings with friends and family.
Diabetes and the Holiday Party
Let’s face it. Parties can be tough for adults who are watching their waistline or trying to manage a chronic illness like diabetes or high blood pressure. Staying healthy during a season of celebrations doesn’t mean you have to give up all of your favorite holiday foods. The trick is to make smart choices and limit portion sizes.
Following these tips can help you stay on track:
Holiday Travel Tips for Indiana Seniors with Diabetes
- Eat normally during the day: Don’t skip meals so you can save calories for a party that evening. Also remember to eat a healthy snack just before the party so you’re not starving when you hit the buffet line.
- Watch out for heavy holiday favorites: Instead of entrees loaded with heavy sauces, gravies and breading, try to stick with turkey that you remove the skin from or other lean meats. Side dishes can be another downfall for people with diabetes. Opt for fresh vegetables and dishes that are light on butter. This will also help you keep your salt intake in check.
- Watch the liquid calories: Holiday parties often come with more than a few unhealthy beverages. Choose low-calorie drinks such as sparkling water or unsweetened tea. If you choose to have alcohol, limit the amount and enjoy it with a meal.
- Dish to pass: Offer to bring a dish to the party. It will give you the chance to make a healthy dish for you and other health-conscious party guests to enjoy.
Holiday travel to visit friends and family typically means changing your routine. For older adults with diabetes, a disruption in routine can make managing the disease a little more challenging.
Here are a few tips that can help:
Work Activity in to Holiday Celebrations
- Pack twice the amount of diabetes supplies you expect to need. If you are traveling by air, remember to pack your medication in your carry-on bag just in case your luggage is lost.
- Check your blood glucose (sugar) more often than usual. Changing your schedule can affect levels. Remember to keep time zone changes in mind when taking your medications.
- Pack your own healthy snacks, glucose gel or tablets with you in case you experience low blood sugar. Healthy foods may not always be accessible when you are traveling.
- Wear medical jewelry –a bracelet or necklace --that identifies you as a person with diabetes. In the event you experience an emergency and can’t speak for yourself, it will help medical personnel quickly assess your situation.
Physical activity any time of the year improves your health and reduces the risk for complications related to diabetes. During the holidays, encourage your whole family to be extra active. You can do that in ways that also allows you to create some great holiday memories.
- Take a lap around the mall to window shop before entering the stores.
- Train for and participate in a local holiday run or walk.
- Start a game of touch football, soccer, basketball or other yard game with loved ones.
- Go for a walk with friends and family after the meal.
- Play games that keep you moving and active such as charades or Wii.
One final tip is to try to put the focus on family and friends and not on food. Staying healthy is the best way to enjoy the season with those you love.