Enjoy the holidays while managing your diabetes

Multi-ethnic family cooks Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner in grandmother's home kitchen.The holidays are quickly approaching. Many will be spending additional quality time with family and friends. These traditions and holiday parties typically revolve around food, which can be difficult and stressful to those with diabetes. Many people find that their diabetes control suffers during this time, but this doesn’t have to be the case. It is possible to the holidays – and the food – with your family and friends.

Here are a few tips to help you enjoy the holiday season without your diabetes taking a hit.

  • Do your best to maintain your normal schedule. Holiday meals and parties can often occur at different times, so plan ahead! If you are taking mealtime insulin, make sure you have it with you and adjust your other mealtime medications as needed.
  • Eat smaller portions. Using a smaller plate can make this easier to do.
  • Be selective of what foods you eat. Make sure to eat some non-starchy vegetables (i.e. broccoli, greens beans, and salads) and limit starchy vegetables (i.e. mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and rolls) to one to two servings.
  • Try to prepare healthier versions of the traditional foods.
  • Eat slowly. By eating slower you will be less likely to overeat.
  • Plan ahead. Decide ahead of time the foods in which you are going to indulge, which desserts you are going to choose to eat and whether or not you are going to allow yourself to have any second helpings. Then, stick with your plan.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol intake. If you are going to consume an alcoholic beverage, drink it with food and limit it to one to two drinks.
  • Be active! You know that you are going to be eating more than normal and eating different foods than normal, so make sure to continue to stay active. This will help you feel better and keep your blood sugar levels lower.
  • Check your blood sugar more frequently, and make adjustments to diet and medications as needed.
  • Drink plenty of water. Try to avoid sugary drinks. You will likely be eating desserts and other starchy foods and do not need the extra sugar from drinks.
  • If traveling for the holidays, make sure that you take all of your medications and supplies with you. Refill your medications, if needed, before leaving town so you don’t run out.
  • Eat a healthy snack prior to going to a party to avoid overeating on other not so healthy options.
  • Don’t skip meals. In people with type 2 diabetes, sometimes skipping meals makes your body feel like it is starving. This can lead to increased blood sugar levels.
  • Do your best to manage your stress. Holidays in general can be very stressful for many people. Increased stress can lead to increased blood sugar. Try to find ways to manage your stress, such as exercise, yoga and deep breathing.
  • Enjoy the holiday season and this time with your family and friends. If you mess up and make a bad choice, don’t beat yourself up about it. Move on and try to make better choices in the future.

Need help getting your diabetes under control? Let the UofL Physicians – Diabetes and Obesity Center helpRequest an appointment online or call 502-588-4600.

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About Jodi Freelund, PharmD

Jodi Freedlund, Pharm.D., is an ambulatory care clinical pharmacist at UofL Hospital, where she has worked for more than 10 years. Jodi provides diabetes management to employees of the UofL Hospital Diabetes Management Program. Jodi is also a clinical pharmacist in the Ambulatory Internal Medicine Clinic where she primarily works in the Anticoagulation Clinic. Jodi graduated from Purdue University in 1999 with her doctorate in pharmacy and she then completed a pharmacy practice residency at the University Hospital in Cincinnati. She continued to work in ambulatory care at the University Hospital in Cincinnati for seven years before moving to the Louisville area. Her primary areas of interest include anticoagulation, diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure and asthma.

All posts by Jodi Freelund, PharmD