The holiday season is an exciting time full of family and friends, social events, traveling, and traditional foods. However, this excitement can become a source of stress for people who are working hard to manage diabetes. Here are some tips to help you enjoy a happy (and healthy!) holiday season.
1) Use the plate method for balanced meals that still include your favorite traditional foods. With the plate method, ¼ of your plate has protein-based foods, ¼ of your plate has carbohydrate-based foods, and ½ of your plate has non-starchy vegetables. This style of eating allows you to enjoy carbohydrate- based foods like potatoes, stuffing, corn, rice, and bread without overindulging. The protein-based foods, such as turkey, chicken, fish, and eggs, and the vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans, mushrooms, and carrots, help your blood sugar to be more stable after eating and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
2) Eat consistently throughout the day. You might be tempted to avoid eating all day to save space for a big holiday meal you; however, this can put you at greater risk for low blood sugar and becoming overly hungry. Eating every 3 to 5 hours can help with more stable blood sugars and preventing overeating at meals. Protein shakes or protein bars can be helpful for busy days when you need to eat on-the-go.
3) Enjoy your holiday treats in moderation. There are some foods, such as traditional desserts, that you may only eat during the holidays. Instead of depriving yourself, set a limit such as one treat per week during the month of December. Have a small portion of your treat, savor the flavors of every bite, and move on. Don’t let it become a habit that continues after the holidays.
4) Make time for movement. Exercise has many health benefits including relieving stress, lowering blood sugar, and improving sleep. If you don’t have 30 minutes at once, you can break it up into 10 minutes three times per day. Any amount of exercise, even five minutes, is better than none. Dealing with winter weather? Keep it indoors by walking the mall, dancing to music, or using exercise videos.
5) Practice self-care. Self-care means taking time to pay attention to you. It looks different for each person but it may involve time for relaxation, a massage, talking with a friend, exercising, a good night’s sleep, or eating food that makes you feel healthy. It’s doing the things that help you to live your best life. If you aren’t taking care of yourself first, you can’t be your best self for taking care of family and friends.
Laura Andromalos, MS, RD, CD, CDE
Certified Diabetes Educator, Cecelia Health