Healthy Living Around the Holidays: Tips to Manage and Prevent Diabetes

The holidays are a busy time for everyone. From the kids being out of school or coming home from college, to travel plans to meet up with friends and family, to planning holiday parties, this time of year tends to fly by! The festivities start on Thanksgiving and run right through the New Year. It’s important during this season to manage your time and expectations: how you can and should manage your diabetes.

November is National Diabetes Month, as well as the start of the holiday season.  So here are three simple tips you can use to enjoy your holiday while keeping your health in check:

  • Remember to snack before you go out – your blood sugar is the key indicator of how and what you ate that day. Stay aware and focused.
  • Limit your alcohol and avoid sugar drinks and avoid artificial sweeteners.
  • Exercise. Not only does it ward off extra pounds, but it releases feel good hormones known as endorphins. It can also help you manage stress.

It’s also important to focus on staying calm and collected. There is nothing worse than stress, as we know this can trigger emotional eating and even elevate our cortisol levels and other stress hormones. In my book, The One One One Diet: The Simple 1:1:1 Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, I share 10 ONE-Minute Motivators that are simple to remember. You can keep a note on your computer or in your planner, or set reminders on your phone.

And with travel, stress, less sleep and over-scheduling ourselves, not to mention the changing temperatures this time of year, our immune system may also become compromised. Think about last year, and if you got the flu, be proactive this year. If you have diabetes, you are at a higher risk for complications from the flu. Stay healthy this holiday season and make a quick trip to a MinuteClinic or your local CVS and get your flu shot.

Minute Clinic Image

I also recommend that you take advantage of the following diabetes related services available at your local MinuteClinic:

And while you are at CVS/pharmacy, you can find some healthy sweets and treats. Everybody has a sweet tooth and there is nothing wrong with the occasional treat! Reading labels is one of the key ways to get informed about the ingredients in a product. Sugar and fiber are so tempting, but protein is really important as it keeps blood sugar stable. In my practice, I recommend that clients find healthy indulgences. Think about keeping smart snacks in your purse or car to fuel you during your Black Friday Shopping Spree. For example, CVS/pharmacy carries KIND Snacks, which contain real ingredients like premium nuts, whole grains and seeds. . I love  the KIND’s Nuts & Spices line as it has 50% less sugar compared to the average snack bar – with only 5-6g per bar. I always recommend reading nutrition label as some bars that claim to be lower in sugar also come with and contain artificial sweeteners and ingredients. The cleaner your diet, the better.

KIND Snacks Nuts and Spices

Since food and nutrition is such a big part of the holidays, below are some tips to help guide you:

Limit Don’t Eliminate.

The key when it comes to making food choices is to limit, not eliminate. What this boils down to is balance. If you have more than one party to attend on any given night, then skip the cookies at the second party. If you indulged in egg nog at the first party, opt for seltzer at the second. You want to enjoy the holidays and all of the treats and sweets without guilt.

Respond, Don’t React.

Even the most balanced person you know still has stress in their life. It’s really about how they respond to it. Reacting may seem like the quickest way to share your feelings, especially if you are feeling picked on or frustrated. This mantra should help you when dealing with stress from family.  Don’t overcommit to activities and parties either. We all need an occasional down night or weekend. There is nothing worse than being in a bad mood during what should be a fun outing!

Think Care, Not Calories.

This is about your mindset and shifting your focus towards a more positive attitude. If you find yourself midway through a second piece of cake, thinking about how many extra minutes you will have to stay on the elliptical machine tomorrow, than you definitely are not enjoying the moment. Start thinking about how you take care of your body. Sure the calories count, but you need to think ahead about how you will feel afterwards.  Exercise should not only be about burning the extra calories that you ate the night before. It’s about feeling good and using those endorphins to make better choices that night. If you are not able to stick with your usual workout routine during the holidays, make an effort to get at least 2-3 workouts during the week. If the temperatures haven’t dropped too low, take a walk after dinner or your holiday meal. I like to get a workout done in the morning. My gym is closed so I do something at home like free weights, legs and an ab workout. It makes me feel better naturally.

Kitchen Know How!

For someone who is pre-diabetic or has type 2 diabetes, managing your food choices is key.  Balance is the name of the game. Just like everyone else, you want a healthy variety of nutrient rich foods, vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Fruits and other sweets should be balanced with a protein or fat at each meal and snack.

We tend to spend a lot of time in the kitchen during the holidays. When it comes to food and cooking this time of year, things tend to get complicated, with buffet style meals, holiday parties at the office and celebrating with family. If you have diabetes, cooking can be a challenge. But by paying attention to the types of food you eat and when, you can help control your blood sugar naturally and improve your overall health.

If you are looking for Diabetic Friendly tips for cooking this holiday season, I share 7 Tips for Sticking to a Diabetic Diet in this post I recently wrote for Martha Stewart.

Also, remember the effects that inflammation has on your blood sugar. Think about incorporating these 12 Anti-Inflammatory Foods into your meals this holiday season! I love this recipe for Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Grapes and Walnuts that you can serve at your holiday dinner party!

Roasted Brussel Sprouts- MS

And if you are looking for heart healthy recipes, great for the whole family, check out MinuteClinic’s #FoodieFriday recipes each week.