Managing Diabetes During the Holidays Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful With These Tips
Summer is fantastic. Spring is buzzing with new beginnings. But there’s something about the leaves turning brilliant hues of red, orange, and yellow, families gathering around the table for home-cooked meals, and old friends popping into town that gives us the biggest smile. Fall is one of our favorite seasons—no questions asked.
Here at Rowdy, we get giddy around this time of year because it’s THE season to be over-the-top grateful, to hug our loved ones extra tight, and (of course) to eat amazing food. There’s just so much to look forward to, including the holiday filled with tricks and treats and the one with stuffing and cranberry sauce—yum!
Halloween is still a week away and Thanksgiving is inching closer, but there’s no denying the holiday spirit is brewing in all of us. Although, for our friends who are diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, we understand this time of year can be particularly tricky for maintaining balanced blood sugar levels. But watching what we eat doesn’t have to be stressful, and it certainly shouldn’t ruin the holidays. Just follow our simple tricks to navigate your way through some healthy holiday eating.
Simple Tips To Managing Diabetes During the Holidays
The Rowdy team is pretty darn passionate about creating healthy foods and offering encouragement for those who may have some dietary restrictions. So get ready friends—whether you have Diabetes or you struggle with other blood sugar issues, we hope this list of helpful tips finds you well.
Stick to Your Daily Routine
The holidays are characteristically chaotic. Your calendar is full and your personal obligations pile higher than the presents under the tree. It’s a lot to manage, and if you’re prone to stress snacking, an unruly schedule could lead to dangerous eating habits.
Limit the running around by sticking to a daily routine. There will be plenty of people, events, and treats tempting you to pull away from your morning routine or your “me time”, but stick to that routine. When you honor your schedule and the habits you need to stay happy and healthy, you’re in much better shape to be present for holiday festivities.
Check Your Blood Sugar Frequently
This should go without saying, but those who check their blood sugar on a regular basis can be proactive about unbalanced insulin. “People with diabetes should be aware of the foods they consume that have carbohydrates in them that affect their blood sugar levels, and if they are monitoring their blood sugar and carbohydrate-containing foods they eat, they can create a balance to keep their blood sugars within normal ranges,” suggests Shanti Wolfe, registered dietician.
Holiday food and drinks are notoriously sneaky for containing loads of processed carbohydrates and sugar. An innocent bite of a sweet potato casserole could spell disaster if you’re not mindfully checking your blood sugar and consciously paying attention to making healthy choices during the holidays.
In addition, the holiday season means there’s just more food to eat, and more frequently. Coworkers bring in delicious baked goods, there’s food at every party, and the holiday drinks are being poured left and right.
It’s easy to lose track of how much you have eaten and how often. Your best bet is to remember to check your blood sugar multiple times a day.
Ask your doctor how often you should check your blood sugar for Diabetes and be sure to stay consistent, even in the midst of the holiday hustle.
Let Technology Help
During the holiday season, you likely have three or four different to-do lists swarming around your head on any given day. Why not delegate your health monitoring to a Diabetes app like MySugr or Glucose Buddy?
Modern technology has developed several digital tools and apps for diabetics to better track their blood sugar. With an app, you can track how food, exercise, and blood sugar levels interact.
Take Charge of the Potluck
The holiday season may as well be called potluck season. Things can get tricky around the potluck table for Diabetics because you don’t really know what Kathrine added to her mashed potatoes to make them taste so heavenly. But there’s no reason you can’t stick to mindful eating this season.
Take it upon yourself to ask your friends what is in their recipes. If you tell them why you need to focus on Diabetes solutions rather than Diabetes problems, it should never be an issue. While some people like to guard their family recipes with their life, if you ask to simply find out whether you can eat it, they should understand.
You can also view the potluck as an opportunity to bring your own healthy dish, so you don’t have to resort to picking around the sweet stuff. Try your own spin on mashed sweet potatoes, or try your hand at some spinach and goat cheese tartlets. With thousands of recipes out there, you’re bound to find something that you and the other guests will love.
It’s important to remember, too, that a little bit of sweets is just fine. You know your body best, so as long as you are mindful of portion sizes, enjoy all you like!
All the shopping and party-hopping may keep you on your feet, but dedicating specific time to exercise is the real ticket to maintaining blood sugar.
“Staying active helps to balance blood sugar levels on a cellular level. The ability of exercise to open up receptors for glucose is one that I have many of my patients take advantage of to lower their overall blood sugar.” Whether you prefer to hit the slopes, enjoy a brisk jog, or hit the weight room, regular exercise can offset all those indulgent foods during the holiday season.
Scrutinize Your Sweets
We’re all adults here, so let’s be honest: you will get down on some sweets and there is nothing wrong with that.
What really matters is what you eat those sweets with. “Processed, simple sugars eaten alone, without any other fiber, protein, or fat-containing foods like honey, gummy candies, beverages sweetened with sugar, and other high-carbohydrate foods void of fiber like rice and bread,” spike blood sugar, notes Wolfe.
When the sugar cookies are calling your name, make sure to limit your portions and pair the cookie with plenty of water and something fibrous.
“Harvard researchers recommend a 10:1 ratio of carbohydrates to fiber on foods, so for every 10 grams of carbohydrates a food has, it should have at least 1 gram of fiber.”
Dine Out Strategically
Not all your meals will be home-cooked. With all that rushing around, family outings, and everyone’s desire for a chef-cooked meal, you may find yourself dining out just to save some time and enjoy a little convenience. During the holidays, restaurants roll out their seasonal menus, which tend to be rich and indulgent. Remember anything in moderation is just fine, but the key is knowing what moderation looks like.
Small decisions like choosing your dressing on the side or swapping your hamburger bun for collard greens or lettuce is a “protein-style” alternative that can make all the difference when you’re dining out.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Before you go rolling your eyes, we’re not recommending ditching the eggnog completely. Just like moderation with indulgent foods can offset blood sugar spikes, limiting alcohol consumption is a simple way to keep tabs on your blood sugar levels. Pay attention to the sugar content in seasonal cocktails, and be sure to drink a glass of water between alcoholic beverages to rehydrate.
Be sure to also avoid drinking alcohol on an empty stomach, as that can lead to hypoglycemia, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
With all that running around and socializing, you’re going to get hungry between meals. But when you’re at a party and the only snack-able options are loaded with sugar, you can feel a bit trapped.
Resist the temptations and keep healthy snacks in your car or bag to avoid sugar traps. Wolfe recommends to choose foods “that have some beneficial fiber and foods that are for the most part, minimally processed. Extra credit for fermented foods and foods with soluble fiber and resistant starch.”
Fill Up on the Holiday Spirit
Although it may seem like it, the holiday season isn’t just about the food. Whenever you feel overwhelmed by indulgent foods singing your name, bring yourself back to the spirit of the season. Express gratitude toward someone you love, or pick up the phone to call an old friend. Find other ways to celebrate the season, and the temptation to gobble down all of Santa’s cookies won’t be so strong.
Happy Holidays From Rowdy Bars!
Whether you’re thrilled for Thanksgiving, hollering for Halloween, or stocked to see Santa, we wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season!
And don’t forget to get your favorite gut-healthy and low-GI snack to stock your family’s stockings or keep in your bag for those snack-able moments. Rowdy Bars will be with you through this festive season.