Tips on Managing Diabetes During the Holidays

Managing diabetes during the holidays can be a challenge for the 29 million Americans affected by the disease. Between social engagements and extra slices of pumpkin pie, people with diabetes need to plan accordingly.

“The holidays can be a time of anxiety for people with diabetes because it is so focused on food,” said Kristen Gill Hairston, MD, associate professor of endocrinology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “With planning and preparation, they can stay healthy while traveling and enjoying holiday gatherings with friends and family.”

Hairston offers ways to manage diabetes from the American Diabetes Association:

Feasts and Parties

  • Minimize finger foods packed with calories and carbs and instead try fresh choices like veggies and hummus.
  • Select side dishes that are light on butter, dressing and other fats and sugars.
  • If everything looks appetizing, take small servings or "samples" of several dishes.
  • Offer to bring a dessert that is diabetes-friendly and easy to portion out.
  • Keep in mind that alcoholic beverages contain carbohydrates and will affect your blood sugar.

Holiday Travel

  • Keep a quick-acting source of glucose nearby along with an easy-to-carry snack such as a nutrition bar.
  • Try to minimize extended periods of time with no food intake.
  • Don’t put insulin in checked baggage where it could be affected by severe changes in pressure and temperature.
  • Adjust your insulin pump’s clock if you change time zones.

“Staying physically active is another component of staying healthy around the holidays,” said Hairston. “The holidays are a great time to catch up with loved ones during an after-dinner stroll, enjoy several hours walking through shopping outlets or deep cleaning your home in preparation for holiday guests. How you move is not nearly as important as continuing to be active.”