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Surviving the Holidays with Diabetes: Tips and Tricks for Enjoying a Happy, Healthy and Festive Season

How to balance your blood sugars (and your sanity) during the holidays with diabetes.


The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and delicious food.

But if you’re living with diabetes, it can also be a time of anxiety and stress as you try to manage your blood sugar levels amidst the abundance of tempting treats.

However, diabetes doesn’t have to dampen your holiday spirit.

With careful planning and mindful strategies, you can enjoy the festive season while keeping your health in check and your blood sugars balanced.

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Understanding the Challenge

Nearly half (49%) of people living with type 2 diabetes find managing their condition during the typical fall and winter holiday season more stressful [1].

This stress often stems from difficulties balancing enjoying holiday foods with maintaining stable blood sugar levels.

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance

My best friend always says this, and I love it as a reminder.

One of the most important things about managing diabetes during the holiday season is to plan [2].

If you know you’re going to a party or family gathering, consider what food will be there and how it fits into your meal plan.

Offer to bring a dish to share – this way, you’ll know at least one thing you can eat without worry.

If you can’t plan or don’t know what foods will be a part of the spread, you can use tools like the plate method as a reminder of how to balance your plate in the moment.

Timing and Consistency is Key

Plan your other meals around the time for the big feast.

While a Thanksgiving spread has many more choices than you’d probably normally go for, it doesn’t mean you must eat everything.

Preparing your plate with a mix of fat, fiber, protein and carbohydrates will allow you to have the meal you want, while feeling satisfied.

You don’t have to eat to a point of feeling uncomfortable or overly stuffed.

It’s also OK to go back for seconds if you like a dish or you’re still hungry.

Just be sure to check in on your blood sugars to ensure they stay in proper ranges.

If your meal is served later than normal, consider having a small snack at your usual mealtime and watching your blood sugars from there.

Be Selective and Mind Your Portions

You don’t have to deny yourself your favorite holiday foods.

The key is balancing portions.

Instead of piling your plate high, take smaller portions.

Prioritize lean proteins, vegetables, and whole grains, and allow yourself a small serving of that must-have dessert or side dish.

Stay Active

Physical activity is another essential aspect of managing diabetes.

Exercise helps control blood sugar levels, reduces stress, and counteracts the extra calories from holiday eating[4].

So, make time for a brisk walk or a quick workout even amidst the holiday hustle.

One of my personal favorites is the Peloton Turkey Burn! It’s a fun way to celebrate the holiday, and get some time to work out.

Remember, It’s Not Just About Food

The holidays are about more than just the food on your plate.

They’re a time to celebrate traditions, enjoy the company of loved ones, and share in the season’s joy.

If you feel overwhelmed by food-related decisions, take a step back and focus on these other aspects of the holidays.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Finally, be kind to yourself. If you overindulge, don’t beat yourself up.

Remember that one bad day won’t derail your diabetes management.

Just make sure to get back on track with your regular eating and exercise routine the next day.

In conclusion, managing diabetes during the holiday season is a challenge, but with careful planning and mindful strategies, enjoying the festivities without compromising your health is possible.

Happy holidays!

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About Mila

Hi! I'm Mila.

I’m earning my Master’s degree in Applied nutrition.

I’m currently an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach living with  LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults, a slow-progressing form of autoimmune Type 1 diabetes) I love food, travel, and my kitchen, and teaching you about diabetes self-management.

I’m here to help you live your best life possible diabetes by showing you how to create simple, blood-sugar friendly and delicious meals and tips on diabetes self-care.

Be sure to download my FREE Diabetes Community App Glucose Guide, or reach out for FREE 1:1 diabetes health and habit coaching.

How can I help with your diabetes management?

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