The holiday season is a festive time filled with family, friendship, and of course, food.
With all of the celebrations planned, both virtual and in-person, it seems like everyone tends to fall off the wagon—or sleigh—when it comes to their diet this time of year. For diabetics, though, this can be particularly dangerous.
If you have diabetes, straying away from your specific eating plan and typical routine may lead to serious and potentially life-threatening health consequences. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage, inflection, and vascular disease in your lower limbs, which could result in the need for a complicated reconstruction surgery or amputation.
We want to do everything we can to ensure you don't experience these issues. Below, we have compiled four tips to help you resist the tempting treats and stay on track this holiday season.
Tip 1: Portions & Planning
Holiday parties are likely going to have an abundance of unhealthy food and drinks available. Plan for this in advance! If you feel the host or hostess will not be serving many healthy options at their gathering, ask if you can bring a nutritious dish to share. Don't skip a meal beforehand so you can binge more later—this will make it harder for you to avoid overeating and manage your levels. To keep your levels consistent, try to eat close to your typical mealtimes and bring a small, nourishing snack if needed. We also recommend avoiding/limiting alcohol consumption, as it can lower blood sugar and interfere with medications.
There is nothing wrong with indulging in a seasonal dish or treat, just as long as you don’t overdo it. Serving sizes are key here! If you plan to enjoy a piece of your favorite dessert, make sure that it’s a small serving and adjust your carb intake accordingly.
Tip 2: Step Away from the Buffet
It’s hard to make healthy choices while standing in front of a large spread of delicious delicacies. When you encounter the holiday buffet at your next gathering, get a small plate together of the foods you like best, but then step away! Fill up a larger plate with vegetables and other nutrient-rich options. Then, eat that plate first to satisfy your hunger. Enjoy your meal slowly so that you’re more aware of when you feel full—this will help to avoid overeating.
Tip 3: Get Moving
The holiday season is a busy time of year, but don’t let that stop you from making time for physical fitness! For diabetics, getting your body moving helps lower blood glucose levels, boosts the body’s sensitivity to insulin, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, improves blood flow, and relieves stress. We suggest breaking up physical activities into small chunks so it’s easier to fit them into your schedule. For example, take a few 10-minute walks each day rather than committing to one 30-minute walk.
Tip 4: Stick to a Sleep Schedule
Holiday festivities can lead to late nights and less sleep. Although leaving (or logging off from) a holiday event early isn’t fun, it’s important that you stay on your usual sleep schedule as much as possible. Sleep deprivation makes it much more difficult to manage your blood sugar, and it can also lead to careless or mindless eating. To avoid these consequences, try to aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
If you are diabetic, it is important to be diligent and take care of your health this season. Holiday goodies, while momentarily rewarding, are not worth compromising your overall health.
If you are in need of an annual diabetic foot exam or have any specific concerns, give our office a call at (717) 757-3537 or contact us online to schedule an appointment!