Handling the Holidays
As we celebrate the season, we work to have our holidays healthy.
By Kerri Sparling
August 2010 — With decadent holiday desserts book ending every massive meal, bowls of foil-wrapped candies in every office, and flutes of sparkling champagne as we ring in the New Year, diabetes can be the epitome of challenging during the holiday season. We even have those blasted sugarplums dancing around in our heads. There is no reprieve!
What is a diabetic to do during the holidays? How can I make these healthy holidays?
One of the biggest hurdles for me is the fact that my husband and I travel to our home state of Rhode Island for the holidays. Both of our families are from RI, so when we visit, we stay with various members of our gene pool. While I love spending time with our loved ones, it's tough to maintain a steady schedule when I'm living out of a suitcase for days on end. Eating consistently healthy is tough because we don't have our well-stocked kitchen and getting regular exercise is a challenge because we're 2 ½ hours from our gym. With these kinds of holiday hoops to jump through, how can I have fun and still keep my meter averages from launching into the stratosphere?
I've found that when I'm forced to bring my diabetes management on the road, I tend to get a little silly. For example, a workout may not take place on the treadmill, but I can cruise the mall for some power shopping. (Yes, walking around the mall in Providence with all those shopping bags totally counts as exercise!) We've also staged hula hoop contests with younger cousins to get a little movement in. And if it snows, nothing burns calories like chucking snowballs at unsuspecting brothers and sisters. While exercise is a tough thing to weave into all the holiday fun, with a little determination and a heavy dose of humility, it can be done.
Healthy eating is another tricky part of "healthy holidays", but that too is an attainable goal. Every meal offers up options, and it's up to me to decide which ones fit best into my overall plan. When picking through the holiday spread, I often stick with the lower carb items - like turkey, ham, green beans, cheeses, and salads – to help keep my numbers more stable. I also steer clear of any beverages that might make my blood sugars high, like eggnog and specialty coffees. (I'd rather eat my carbs than drink them!) But since it's the holidays and do I want to indulge a bit, I feel less guilty about grabbing that piece of cheesecake or a sliver of pie. Moderation goes a long way in keeping me from hitting those massive post-meal spikes and also lets me actually enjoy the food I'm eating. I hate that feeling of piling more carbs on top of an already sticky high blood sugar, so I do whatever I can do stay stable.
Over the last year, wearing a continuous glucose monitor has helped a LOT in fine-tuning these management tweaks. In particular, staying stable throughout the holiday feasts has been much easier since I've had the benefit of a CGM. Checking my blood sugar trends throughout the day has helped me ward off mega-spikes and previously unanticipated lows. This CGM safety net alleviates a lot of the stress of the seasonal celebrations.
During the course of these eat, drink, and be merry days, I'm doing what I can to have fun and stick with the program. Happy, and healthy, holidays to you all, and I'll see you next year!
Visit Kerri's website.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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