It can be challenging to manage diabetes during holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Special meals, often hosted by people with little understanding of diabetes management, are plentiful this time of year. On top of that, parties and visits often involve a lot of traveling, and packed schedules are not uncommon.
Getting through the holidays with diabetes often requires a fair amount of preparation and thoughtfulness. Here are some great tips to help you in the pursuit of a fun and happy holiday season.
1) Set a portable alarm, such as one on a mobile phone, as a reminder for important medications and blood sugar testing.
Busy and changing schedules can make it challenging to remember medication or blood sugar checks. One way to avoid this is to set an alarm on a mobile phone or other portable device. This added reminder will make it easier to maintain important scheduled activities on the go.
2) Better yet, automate blood sugar testing with a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM).
CGMs can be extremely helpful during the holiday season because they automate blood sugar testing. CGMs are discreetly inserted under the skin and take regular glucose measurements on an ongoing basis. Since they alert the user to high and low glucose, they can be extremely handy for people on the go or who may be eating a bit differently during the holidays.
CGMs are covered by Medicare for qualifying patients – click here for more information about ordering this helpful tool.
3) Plan ahead for how many sweets and treats you will consume.
Getting to a party without a plan can often end in overindulgence. Be specific about what you are willing to “budget” for each holiday event – whether it’s a slice of grandma’s pie, a couple of chocolate goodies, or simply being conscientious of portion control. Those who are traveling to holiday parties with a close loved one, like a spouse or child, can share these “budgets” with their companion in order to better commit to the plan.
4) Offer to be the designated driver.
Alcohol is high in sugar and often plentiful at holiday parties. Once again, people with diabetes should plan ahead to clarify how much they can drink within their management plan. Those who wish to steer clear altogether can offer to drive others to and from a holiday party. This will be a help to others, as well as making it easier to explain why one is not drinking should they be asked.
5) Use a napkin instead of a plate when picking up appetizers.
Appetizers can sometimes be harder to manage than seated meals. It is easy to “lose track” of how much one has eaten while grazing on platters of meat, cheese, and goodies.
One way to ensure smaller portion sizes is to gather favorite snacks (especially vegetables!) on a napkin. This will ensure smaller portions compared to piling food a plate, while still giving people with diabetes the ability to carefully select, gather, and track items.
6) Contribute a dish to shared holiday meals.
One of the biggest challenges for diabetes during the holidays is the mystery of how meals are prepared. How much sugar, butter, and oil is in this dish, exactly?
While some families are not offended by the questioning, others might find it a faux pas to grill the host about their cooking methods. In these cases, people with diabetes can protect their health by contributing a healthy dish to the occasion. This ensures that there will be something on the table they can eat if the menu appears to be out of line with the diabetes management plan.
7) Wear the right shoes when going out.
Foot injuries can lead to serious complications and even loss of limb in people with diabetes. This is why Medicare covers a pair of diabetic shoes and 3 sets of inserts for qualifying patients each year (click here for more information).
Wearing the right shoes is important during the holidays. You never know who might have a loose step, icy driveway or uneven floor. Additionally, standing to chat or walking between events will often be expected.
Whether you need winter-friendly boots or a nice pair of dress shoes for a church event, it’s a good idea to make sure a therapeutic pair is in the closet to match each occasion.