Tips for Managing Diabetes Throughout the Holidays

Posted on Thursday, November 18, 2021

Thanksgiving is just around the corner with multiple other holidays quickly following—like Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s! If you’re like many people with diabetes, you’re thinking about food and festivities…and how you’ll keep your blood sugar in check amidst all the celebrations. Check out our quick tips for successful diabetes management this holiday season.

Keep your stress levels low. Holidays can be a stressful time; however, people with diabetes in particular need to keep their stress levels at bay, as stress could cause blood glucose levels to spiral out of control. The American Diabetes Association adds that individuals with diabetes who are under stress may not take good care of themselves—they may drink more alcohol or exercise less, and they may also forget to check their glucose levels or plan good meals. This holiday season, manage your stress through exercise, meditation, relaxation techniques, conversation and laughter.

Control your portions. With so many tasty and tempting options at holiday time, portion control can be downright difficult. However, you’ll need to keep an eye on the amount of food you eat since eating too much can affect your blood sugar levels. When plating your food, divide it into four portions: fill one quarter with a lean protein, one quarter with a carbohydrate, and the remaining half with green vegetables and other non-starchy vegetables. Avoid veggies that are drowned in oil, butter, heavy dressings or sauces—they may be loaded with sugar and carbohydrates.

Plan your snacks. At holiday gatherings, you never know what food will be served or when it will be offered to guests. For that reason, you may want to check in with your host prior to the event so you can ensure healthy options are readily available for you. If you take insulin or other medicines, you may need to adjust your eating times to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Consider packing a small snack for yourself or offer to bring a healthy appetizer for sharing.

Don’t overindulge in holidays spirits. While most people with diabetes can enjoy alcohol in moderation, it’s important to remember that alcohol contains both sugar and carbohydrates, and not all drinks are created equal. Beer, for example, may be high in carbohydrates, whereas cocktails can contain lots of sugar. For people with diabetes who take insulin, too much alcohol can actually lower blood sugar levels, resulting in hypoglycemia. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting alcohol to 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women.

Incorporate exercise. Regular physical activity is an important part of managing diabetes or dealing with prediabetes, so holidays or not, make sure you’re following the American Diabetes Association’s recommendation of getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. Exercise can lower your blood glucose during a workout and for up to 24 hours after. Plus, the more you exercise, the better your body becomes at processing glucose, and your insulin sensitivity increases. This season, try ice skating, skiing or brisk winter walking. Not your speed? Join a cardio class at the gym or opt for an at-home workout video.

Remember that the holidays are meant to be joyous and fun. Throughout this season and all year round, stay mindful about your choices and behaviors and prepare to ring in a very healthy 2022!


Did you know that Mom’s Meals offers a diabetes-friendly menu?

For individuals with prediabetes and diabetes, Mom's Meals offers diabetes-friendly menu choices that are based on standards from the American Diabetes Association. We also have registered dietitians available to answer your questions about nutrition and ingredients.

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