Holiday eating survival guide

Holiday eating survival guide

It’s almost that time of year…the holidays! That means lots of fun, family, fellowship, friends and food!

The holiday season can be such an enjoyable, yet stressful time of the year, especially for someone who is trying to manage diabetes. It can almost feel like someone with diabetes is a little cut off from all the festivities. The following ideas can help you stay on track to manage your diabetes, while still enjoying the fun.

  1. First of all, do not let one slip up cause you to panic. Check your blood glucose, take your medication accordingly and use the situation as a learning experience.
  2. Check your blood glucose more frequently. Monitor your levels both before and after parties, especially if you have consumed alcohol. You may also need to check it during the party, if you will be there for an extended period of time.
  3. Stay on track with your medication doses and timing. If you will be attending an event that will involve food and you take medications that should be taken at mealtime, bring your medication with you.
  4. Use mobile apps to track your food and activity.
  5. Maintain your eating schedule, as much as possible. Skipping meals to try and play catch up for overeating, can wreak havoc on your blood glucose control. This can also lead to overeating later due to excessive hunger.
  6. Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite foods. Limit portion sizes or look for healthier versions of those foods. Sometimes, a couple of simple substitutes can make a big difference in the carbohydrate and/or calorie content.
  7. Always try to bring a couple of low carbohydrate dishes to a gathering. You will have some options that you know are good choices and can take smaller portions of unfamiliar items.
  8. Choose a smaller plate. Eat slowly. Keep a carbohydrate-free drink in your hand.
  9. Load up on low carbohydrate vegetables. Eating vegetables, such as broccoli, asparagus, zucchini or spinach, first can help fill you up so portion control with other foods will be easier.
  10. Budget treats into your meal. Switch out mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower or a low carbohydrate stuffing/dressing, to allow carbohydrate for a small serving of dessert. Save indulgences for foods you dearly love.
  11. Give away leftovers that are too tempting to keep around.
  12. Stay active. Focus on fun activities, rather than focusing on food. Try holiday-themed games after the meal and move to another area away from the food to reduce grazing. Plan a group walk to look at holiday decorations or go window shopping.
  13. Remember, alcohol should be consumed with food. Limit yourself to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Alcohol can lead to hypoglycemia. Make sure the people you are with know that you have diabetes and how to treat a low blood glucose. Always carry glucose tablets, mints, etc.
  14. If you use mealtime insulin and are attending a party that will involve nibbling over a few hours rather than sitting down to a meal, discuss your insulin dosing with your health care provider. He or she may suggest splitting up the dose to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia.

For more information on diabetes management, talk with your doctor or contact the Bruce Chertow Diabetes Center at 304-691-1000.


Tracy Hawthorne, RD, LD, CDE

Tracy is a registered dietitian and program coordinator for the Chertow Diabetes Center at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. A certified diabetes educator, she focuses on helping individuals living with diabetes better understand how to make healthier life choices.