Your diabetes does not have to take away from the joys of the festive season. With a little preparation and planning, you can fully enjoy the season with family, friends and loved ones.
Here are a few simple suggestions for making the most of the holidays without hurting your diabetes control.
You will be better able to maintain blood glucose control during the holidays if your blood glucose is within safe ranges before the holiday season.TIP: A safe level to aim for before meals is 4-7 mmol/L.
If your holidays include a large meal (and whose holidays don’t?) additional exercise or added insulin may be needed.
For instance, if your blood glucose levels rise above safe post-meal levels, enlist a family member or friend to walk the block with you once dinner is over.
If you take insulin, your strategy may include dose changes for special occasions. Discuss changes in insulin doses with your doctor or diabetes educator so that you are well prepared. Carbohydrate counting may be a useful tool for you.
A dietitian will be able to help you use this method to plan for these situations.
TIP: Aim for between 8 to 10 mmol/L two hours after taking the first bite of the meal. The guidelines state that the target is 5-10 mmol/L if A1C is at target and 5-8 mmol/L if A1C is not at target. Target for A1C is less than 7 per cent.
If you think you may be drinking alcohol, do some testing before the holidays. (You have discussed alcohol with your doctor, of course). Use alcohol with caution as it may affect blood glucose levels for up to 12 hours after drinking. Check your blood glucose to determine the effects of alcohol on your blood glucose levels. Knowing what changes to expect will give you the confidence to be able to enjoy a drink. Women should limit their consumption to one or fewer drinks per day and men to two or fewer drinks per day.
TIP:As a rule, if you are having alcohol, take it with a meal.
If you are the one planning meals during the holidays, choose meals that you know are healthy for you. Chances are you will be doing your family and company a healthy good deed as well.
TIP:For years, people with diabetes have been encouraged to follow diet guidelines which are now known to be appropriate for everybody – diabetic or not!
Also, type 2 diabetes often runs in families, so planning healthy meal choices will benefit more than just those already diagnosed with diabetes.
Most importantly, eating healthy foods does not mean you cannot enjoy yourself. Many foods that are healthy also taste good. You are much more likely to enjoy the holiday season to its fullest if your blood glucose is well controlled within safe ranges and you are feeling your best.