The holidays are filled with joyous gatherings, traditions and many delicious treats. The holidays may also be one of the most stressful times of the year. Stresses can include traveling, preparing for a large gathering, shopping, decorating and cooking. Busy schedules can also lead to lack of physical activity. Holiday stresses are especially challenging for someone with diabetes.
November is National Diabetes Month. This month is dedicated to educating America about the risk factors leading to diabetes and ways to manage it for those already diagnosed with the disease. Diabetes management requires careful planning. Here are some helpful hints.
The traditions of meals and festivities do not have to be abandoned when you have diabetes. Instead, face the holidays head-on with a plan. Planning is the key to successfully manage your health during the holidays. The following are some tips that will help reduce holiday stress.
- Develop a schedule. Will you be traveling this holiday season? Do you have a lot of parties to attend? Talk to your healthcare provider regarding adjustments to your medication or insulin due to the timing of meals or travel. Check your blood glucose often because of schedule changes.
- Schedule 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity almost daily. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress. Even small changes can help. If you go shopping, park your car farthest away from the entrance and walk. Take stairs instead of the elevator when possible. Power walk while shopping. Enjoy seasonal activities with your family: build a snowman, try snow shoeing or go skiing.
- Create menus ahead of time. You don’t have to give up your favorite traditional foods during the holidays. However, there are ways to modify recipes and don’t forget that portion sizes should still be small. A great tool to use is the Idaho Plate Method (www.platemethod.com), which gives a visual for how to spread out carbohydrate-containing foods throughout the day to help control blood glucose levels. Ways to modify recipes include using sugar substitutes, replacing high fat ingredients for low- or non-fat options, and increasing spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg and reducing sugar. When attending a party, offer to bring a dish that is diabetes friendly, have a healthy snack before going so you aren’t too hungry, and fill your plate with fruits and vegetables. Always carry healthy snacks with you while shopping and traveling and stay hydrated!
Focus on loved ones this holiday season and don’t let diabetes spoil your festivities. Planning ahead will ensure happy and healthy holidays. For more information, great recipes, stress-reducing tips and food samples, please join use from 6:00-7:30 p.m. Monday, November 14 at Pilgrims Market where we present “Healthy Shopping Made Simple” and from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 15 at the Kroc Center, while we discuss the topic “Health Holiday Planning.”