Christmas and Thanksgiving are holidays that most people look forward to spending time with their family, and enjoying heavy meals that disregard their normal diet. As a diabetic you may not have the luxury of totally forgetting about your diet, but there is no reason you cannot enjoy the holiday season as much as anyone. Here are some tips to help you navigate Christmas and Thanksgiving without endangering the balance of your blood glucose levels.
Your meal schedule is one of the primary means of controlling blood glucose, and many times a holiday meal does not fit in that schedule. You can arrange a more appropriate meal time with your family, or if that is not an option you can remember to have a small snack at your usual meal time to keep to your schedule and prevent a swing in your blood glucose levels. If your medication alters your blood glucose levels, check with your physician for their advice on when to take it during your holiday schedule. A solid plan and schedule will lower the chances of the holidays affecting your health, and identify free time to plan physical activities with your family. You can avoid overdoing it by planning how you will handle an individual meal; for instance if you know you want to have a desert that is high in carbohydrates, cut back on carbs during the main course.
Get Some Excercise
Lots of families have a tendency to sit around watching football or nap after a big holiday meal, but light physical activity will go a long way to helping you maintain healthy levels on all of your vitals and combat the effects of possible overeating. A short walk with your family will give you time to bond while also enjoying the benefits of exercise; having younger family members offers an opportunity for a game of basketball or tossing a football for some fun and exercise.
Revise Recipes / Substitute Healthier Foods
It is depressing to give up a holiday tradition that you have enjoyed since childhood, but your health is what is important here. Look over your holiday menu and see if there are dishes that could be substituted with a healthier option, and consider altering favorite recipes by switching unhealthy ingredients with healthy ones. In deserts cut back on sugar and substitute with cinammon, vanilla, or natural fruit flavors. You can make a dish much healthier by just altering the way you prepare it; for example a serving of French Fries has 17g of fat, 48g of carbohydrates and 365 calories. A baked potato only has 0.2g of fat, 37g of carbs and 161 calories while retaining much more of a potato’s nutritional value.
Drink in Moderation
It is easy to get carried away with alcohol when enjoying the company of friends and family, but for a diabetic it’s especially important to moderate your alcohol intake. The best option is to not drink at all, but if you do decide to drink be sure to eat beforehand to prevent low blood glucose levels later and to slow the absorption of alcohol into your blood stream. Avoid mixers with high sugar content or drinks that are high in carbohydrates. Switch back and forth between water and your alcoholic drink to stay hydrated and slow alcohol absorption.
Take Care of Yourself
Not everyone will be cooperative about your health, but everyone likes to try a new dish! Bring a food that you like that also fits into your diet and share a healthy option with everyone else. At the very least this will help balance some other unhealthy choices or unhealthy preparation. The greatest gift of all is the gift of good health, and nobody knows better than those of us afflicted with a chronic disease.
Happy Holidays, and I hope you have some luck with these strategies for curbing unhealthy choices over the holiday season!