Three generations of family eating Thanksgiving dinner
Diseases & Conditions

Navigating – and Enjoying – the Holidays With Diabetes

By on 11/19/2021

The holidays, stretching from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, represent an important time in every person’s life in the form of family, friends, culture and tradition.

For people with diabetes, the thought of the holidays and food may bring feelings of worry and confusion.

You may be wondering if you can still eat your favorite foods. Or if your sister is going to make a comment on the amount of food you did or didn’t eat. You may be thinking it would be better to just avoid gatherings until the season ends.

Diabetes doesn’t have to make this a depressing time. With some good planning and preparation, you can enjoy this year just as much as anyone else.

Much of a person’s enjoyment has to do with perspective. This is a good time to change the lens through which you look at the holidays.

Enjoy

Take some time to think about the things you have enjoyed about the holidays.

  • Who do you spend time with? What do those people mean to you?
  • How does your culture define the holidays? What holidays do you celebrate?
  • What traditions have become part of your holidays?
  • Do some of those traditions include food? What foods do you enjoy most?

Plan

  • Anticipate difficult conversations surrounding food or lifestyle changes, and think about your response before they come up.
  • Put special parties and gatherings on the calendar so you can plan ahead.
  • If you’re hosting guests or bringing a dish to a party, look for recipes of the foods you enjoy that are lower in carbohydrates and unhealthy fats.
  • Practice new recipes ahead of time to see if they meet your expectations.
  • Spend some time at the grocery store reviewing product labels of foods and ingredients you will use for your dishes.
  • Whether you are entertaining at home or going out, determine when meals will be served. If it is different than your current eating plan, decide how you will accommodate that. You may need to have a snack to prevent lows if a meal will be later. Or you may need to change the timing of your morning meal that day so you’re not eating too soon after a meal.
  • Make sure you have all your medications and will not miss a dose. If you plan to be out-of-town or away for many hours, pack a pill box. If using insulin, pack extra needles or supplies.

Be Mindful

  • Eat the foods you enjoy the most. If a food doesn’t taste that great, then it’s not worth the carbohydrates or the calories.
  • Keep portions small.
  • If plates are large, only fill your plate half to three-quarters full.
  • Skip the sugary drinks. Just drink water or sugar-free drinks such as coffee or tea.
  • If you are going to have alcohol, minimize the amount and drink it only with food.
  • Eat your veggies! Remember that nonstarchy vegetables don’t raise blood glucose, but also beware that sometimes at holidays they are laden with extra fats and sugars. Watch out for buttery carrots or sweetened dressings on salads, for instance.
  • If using meal-time insulin, talk to your healthcare provider about adjusting your dose for higher carb meals.

Life with diabetes is different than life without. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holidays.

Be confident in your diabetes management plan. Let your family and friends know about the changes you have made and that you need their support. Then enjoy what makes you happy while being mindful of your health.

For more information on Diabetes Education and Support classes at Einstein, call 215-456-6839.

Tabitha Miller, RD, LDN, CDCES is a dietitian who recently took over the Diabetes Education Program at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia. She comes with 15 years of experience and is excited about the potential to reach so many more people living with diabetes.

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Perspectives highlights the expertise and services provided by the physicians, specialists, nurses and other healthcare providers at Einstein Healthcare Network. Through this blog, we share information about new treatments and technologies, top-tier clinical teams and the day-to-day interactions that reinforce our commitment to delivering quality care with compassion. Here, you will also find practical advice for championing your health and wellness. The Einstein Healthcare Network "Terms of Use" apply to all content on this blog.