Whether it’s Christmas or Thanksgiving, no holiday is complete without a feast. But when you’re controlling your diet, these holidays can throw a wrench in your plans.
With everyone around and enjoying the food and drinks, it’s easy to lose yourself in the fun and forget to keep track of your meals. But that isn’t something you can afford to do with type 1 diabetes – at least, not for long.
So here is what you can do this holiday season to keep your diabetes under control but still have fun and participate in the festivities.
Tips for a More Diabetes-Friendly Holiday Season
1. Participate in Meal Planning
Whether you are hosting or planning to go to someone’s place, the best way to keep track of what you eat is by being involved in the process of making what you eat.
Offering to help or bring some diabetes-friendly options can be a great idea. Not only will that take the burden off the host, but it will also allow you to be a bit more at ease with all the food options. You can even offer to make low-sugar or sugar-free desserts.
If you are the host, then you should see what suits your diet plan and everyone else’s taste and try to come up with meals that are healthy, hearty, and delicious. Vegetables are a great option and some roasted veggies done right can really elevate a meal but not impact your blood glucose levels too much. Try to come up with meals that rely more on proteins and vegetables than carbs.
If you go out to eat, you can always ask the servers questions to figure out which options are lower-carb. That way, you won’t end up eating something that causes an accidental spike in blood glucose levels.
2. Keep an Eye on Portions
You can come up with the most diabetes-friendly meal plans, but if you don’t focus on your portion sizes, it can still mess up your glycemic control.
Holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving are centered so much around food that it can be difficult to keep check of your portion sizes, especially when there are so many options to try.
If that’s the case, I’d suggest cutting down the portion size of all meals, trying only what you like best, or pacing out what you eat throughout the day, rather than feasting on everything at once.
This way, you can enjoy everything without having to worry about your blood glucose levels too much more than usual.
3. Track Your Boluses and Carb Intake
Planning ahead is the best strategy for holiday parties and dinners. You know that when you go to a party, you are probably going to eat more than usual and even eat certain things that you normally wouldn’t. So, the best thing to do is to acknowledge this and prepare to track your meals.
Gluroo is, of course, an excellent tool to help with this. With Gluroo you can log meals and insulin boluses lightning fast, either with the intuitive UI or by simply typing, for example, “30g pumpkin pie”. Gluroo will track the carbs in your system over time, so that you can always be aware of how much insulin and carbohydrates are “on board” and have yet to affect your BGL.
With Gluroo you can also take pictures to log your meals, which can be especially helpful during the holidays when you may not be sure of the exact carb amount on your plate. You can download Gluroo for free today on both iOS and Android.
4. Try to Stay Active
People often travel to and from home during the holiday season, which can easily mess up their workout schedules. Even if you aren’t traveling, considering the amount of effort required to put together the holiday get-togethers, it’s no surprise that working out takes a back seat for most people.
But, when you are already eating meals that aren’t necessarily the healthiest, working out becomes even more important to maintain your blood glucose levels. So even if you can’t go to the gym regularly, add some activities like hiking, jogging, and walks to your schedule to keep you active. You can even have a step goal for each day and simply try to reach it. A simple 15-20 minute walk after a meal is the secret weapon for type 1 diabetes. Plan around being able to deploy this trick whenever you need it!
5. Manage Alcohol Intake
No holiday party is complete without a little alcohol in the mix. Whether it is eggnog, mulled wines, or Christmas punch, most households feature some type of alcoholic drink during the holiday season.
But alcohol can be bad for glycemic control and can make your sugar levels go haywire. As someone with type 1 diabetes, you are probably careful and aware of the consequences of drinking alcohol, but it can be really hard to say no during the holidays when everyone around is having some.
The effects of alcohol on your blood glucose levels are complicated and outside the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that alcohol (and the often sweet liquids it’s mixed with) is best avoided in order to eliminate one more factor that can cause wild, unpredictable BGL swings..
So, this holiday season, try to drink as little as possible and avoid sweeter liquors.
6. Drink Plenty of Water
Sometimes even the simplest of things like drinking adequate water can make a world of difference.
Drinking a substantial amount of water won’t just keep you hydrated, it will also keep you fuller and stop you from overeating. Drinking more water will also reduce the effect of alcohol on your system.
Proper hydration is generally recommended to everyone, especially those with diabetes, as some studies have shown that it helps in maintaining good glycemic control in the long term.
7. Test Your Blood Sugar More Frequently
Even if you are very aware of what you eat and how it’s prepared, you can still easily miss out on things. When you are having fun, it can be very easy to lose track of all the calculations, so the best thing to do is simply monitor your blood sugar levels frequently so you know where you stand exactly.
If you check your levels before a meal normally, consider adding an additional check about 2-3 hours after each meal during the holidays, especially on days when you go out or host people. If you have a continuous glucose monitoring device, keep a close eye on that to make sure your blood sugar levels aren’t too high or low. Doing so will allow you to adjust your insulin levels accordingly.
8. Don’t Forget to Sleep Well
Parties and holidays can be really fun, but they also require a lot of time and effort. Make sure that you don’t neglect your health.
Preparing for a holiday, especially as a host, can be time-consuming and can sometimes require you to prep early in the morning whilst staying up late into the night, but that doesn’t mean that you should cut down on your sleep for it. Excessive stress and reduced sleep can then lead to excessive carb cravings, putting you at risk of overeating.
In the long term, sleep is important for glycemic control and with so much going on, it’s good to rest well and make sure that you’re doing all you can to keep your blood sugar levels in check.
Holidays are a time of fun, food, family and friends. With Christmas and Thanksgiving right around the corner, there’s a lot to look forward to and a lot to plan for. But, in this excitement don’t forget to plan how you will be managing your glycemic control.
Type 1 diabetes requires a lot of careful management, but sometimes even simple things like drinking enough water, planning meals, watching your portions, getting your steps in, and sleeping well can make a world of difference.