‘Tis the season for travel, parties, baked goods, decadent snacks and alcohol. But if you have diabetes, these holiday hazards can derail an otherwise healthy routine. While you can’t control the temptations, you can maintain your weight and blood sugar levels AND enjoy the party! Try these tips to help you have a fun, festive and diabetes-friendly holiday:
- Budget your treats. Don’t deny yourself your holiday faves, just try to prioritize. Maybe it’s aunt Mary’s famous cherry cheesecake or cousin Barry’s scalloped potatoes that you just can’t miss. Avoid the other heavy dishes that you could take or leave, giving you more leeway to enjoy the “must-haves” guilt-free.
- Make simple swaps. If you’re the host, many traditional recipes can be made healthier with quick substitutions. Try cauliflower instead of rice or potatoes and swap high-fat sour cream for protein-rich Greek yogurt. Limit sauces, gravy and butter and replace fried foods with roasted, boiled, BBQ’d or fresh options.
- Party smart. Before your next soiree, let the host know about your meal restrictions and offer to bring a healthy dish. This will help the host and guarantee there’s something that fits within your meal plan. Never arrive to a party hungry or you’ll be more likely to overeat and make poor choices. To help navigate those holiday feasts, fill half your plate with vegetables or salad, a quarter with carbohydrates/fibre and leave the last quarter for lean protein.
- Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water and skip the sugary, holiday drinks. Sparkling water with citrus is a great way to keep your hands busy at a party. Alcohol may interfere with insulin and some medications, but can often be enjoyed in moderation. Talk to your doctor about whether alcohol is safe for you.
- Keep moving. Staying active is a great way to lower your blood sugar and should be your holiday secret weapon. If you’re finding it hard to get in a full workout, break up exercise into 10-15 minute segments throughout the day. Pick active holiday activities like a late night walk to see the neighbourhood lights, tobogganing with the kids or cross-country skiing—depending on your fitness level.
- Double check. If you take insulin or medications for blood sugar, you will need to test your levels more often during the holidays. Allow for a few extra checks at parties to account for the inevitable change in routine. Talk to your doctor about whether the amount needs to be adjusted before the holiday season.
It is possible to enjoy wonderful food and parties this holiday, while keeping your blood sugar stable. If you overindulge, don’t beat yourself up! Just make a plan to get back on track. This is the season for celebrating and connecting with the people you love. Make healthy choices, keep your activity levels up and focus on the fun not the feast.