Staying healthy and managing diabetes during the holidays

November 20, 2018

It’s the season for family, fun, and lots of food! Unfortunately, the holidays can create challenges for those trying to manage their diabetes and even others trying to stick to a diet and stay healthy.

“Not only are there a lot of tempting treats during the holidays, but you often can’t control what’s being served. We encourage people to remember that it’s about balance and moderation. If eating from a buffet, try selecting a small plate so that you’re more likely to select smaller portions. If you do have some sweets, cut back on the carbohydrate you choose for the meal to keep the blood sugar in balance,” says Gail Llewellyn, RN, BSN, CDE, a Registered Nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center.                                

Llewellyn also says it’s important to make time for plenty of exercise and sleep.

“Exercise doesn’t have to be an hour at the gym. It could also be taking a walk through the neighborhood to deliver gifts, going to the park with the family after a meal, playing catch with the kids outside, or taking everyone bowling. The holidays are hectic, so just think about different ways to stay active, and then make sure you call it quits in time to get a good night’s sleep. Seven to nine hours is recommended.”

When it comes to traveling, keep healthy snacks on hand.

“Traveling, and even just running errands, can alter your normal eating schedule, so make sure you have something on hand in case you can’t eat right away, like healthy snack bars, fruit and a cheese stick or raisins and nuts. Snacks should be a combination of a carbohydrate to bring the blood sugar up and a protein to stabilize the blood sugar.  That will carry you safely to the next meal and prevent overeating once you get to that meal,” says Llewellyn.

Most importantly, Llewellyn wants to remind people not to get discouraged if they get off track.

“Don’t let one day or one meal derail you, everyone gets off track sometimes. If you indulge too much, re-focus on spending time with friends and family, not food. Drink lots of water, maybe do a little extra exercise, and get back on track. Everyone needs to eat healthy and exercise, not just those with diabetes, so enlist the help of friends and family to help each other enjoy in a healthy way—that truly can be a ‘reason for the season’.”

If you want to learn how to manage your diabetes, Memorial Hermann offers ADA Recognized Diabetes Self- Management Education and Support Programs. You will receive an individualized assessment of your needs, and tools to achieve your personal health goals. A physician’s referral is required. For more information, visit Memorial Hermann's Diabetes Center.

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