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5 Tips for a Healthy Holiday for Those with Diabetes


by Sarah Balko, RD, CDCES

Department of Endocrinology, Day Kimball Healthcare


The holiday season can be a time of long to-do lists, more obligations, gatherings and parties. Many of us find ourselves eating out or indulging a little more than usual. It’s also a time where there is a lot of focus on food and drinks, and usually not the healthy ones. If you have diabetes, this can make it difficult to manage your illness. But, the good news is, it doesn’t have to be! 

With these easy-to-follow tips, you can make it through the festivities without compromising your health goals or wreaking havoc on your diabetes management. 

  1. Don’t skip meals. This can lead to overeating and cravings in the evening. If you have diabetes, skipping meals can also cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and/or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). To balance calories, have a light breakfast and lunch (that still includes some healthy carbohydrates and lean proteins) but limit high fat and calorie food items knowing you will be indulging a bit later in the day.
  2. Bring a dish to pass. Vegetables are a festive and colorful addition for any holiday plate. Bringing a veggie dish with you to a gathering will ensure that there will be a healthy balance to your meal. This will also help you avoid filling up on higher calorie starches, which can have a greater negative impact on blood sugar.
  3. Stay hydrated. But, watch out for drinks with too much sugar. Use your creativity! You can replace sugary drinks with water or unsweetened tea and coffee to avoid excess calories. If you are drinking alcohol, add in 1 glass of water between each cocktail. For a non-alcoholic beverage, add a splash of juice to seltzer water and garnish with cranberries and mint leaves.
  4. Practice mindful eating. It is possible to have all of your holiday favorites – just consume smaller portions. It doesn’t have to all be about the food. Instead, focus on the company and the atmosphere. And remember – bread, stuffing, potatoes, corn, rolls, cranberry sauce, glazed ham or carrots and desserts can all raise your blood sugar. Swap out the ones you don’t need to have – for example, turkey instead of glazed ham; an unsweetened, non-starchy vegetable instead of glazed carrots or corn.
  5. Be realistic. The holidays are not a time to try to lose 20 pounds. Be realistic with yourself and your goals. Not gaining the typical 3 to 5 pounds over the holidays can be an achievement – celebrate it!  

Sarah Balko, RD, CDCES is a Certified Diabetes Educator in the Endocrinology Department at Day Kimball Healthcare. Click here to learn more about endocrinology services.   


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