Many people, especially those with a chronic condition like diabetes, already know the holiday season can be a particularly difficult time to maintain healthy habits.
Why is it important to be judicious about those endless spreads of holiday foods? Research suggests that people with diabetes who maintain blood glucose levels may slow the progress of complications associated with this health condition.1
Molly Gee, a registered dietitian and diabetes expert and Dr. Beth McQuiston, a registered dietitian and Medical Director for Abbott, offer five tips for how to prepare for this time of year:
- Avoid Skipping Meals and Carry Snacks. Whether you are traveling, shopping or preparing larger meals, "try to avoid skipping meals to help keep your blood sugar on track," says Dr. Beth McQuiston.
"Planning to have portable nutritious snacks or meal replacements ready in advance can help manage blood sugar levels when you are on the go, shopping or traveling for the holidays," says Gee, a spokesperson for Glucerna, a line of Abbott nutrition products that help adults in managing blood glucose levels. "When faced with those delicious temptations, it’s always good to have an alternative right on hand."
- Make a Plan. "You don’t have to give up all of your holiday favorites," says McQuiston. "Develop a game plan ahead of time that keeps you happy and healthy. Ask your healthcare provider for a list of holiday foods that work for you. You can also look up menus for restaurants ahead of time so that you can plan accordingly. To get more ideas about healthy options, visit www.eatright.org or www.diabetes.org."
Also, pack accordingly for your travel and day trips. Make sure to pack enough of your diabetes monitoring tools including blood glucose meters and test strips (e.g. FreeStyle Freedom Lite System, FreeStyle InsuLinx System) to ensure you don’t skip out on daily blood glucose monitoring.
- Make it a Family Affair. "When you make healthy decisions, it sets a good example for the people around you," says Gee. "Involve your family in planning healthy meals and snacks during the holidays. Also, research supports that people who stay in healthy groups tend to live healthier lives and so it’s best to get everyone you are around in on the action."
- Don’t Ditch Fitness. "If possible, try to stick with your current exercise routine, but if you can’t do all of your exercise minutes at one time, consider breaking it into 10-minute segments throughout the day," advises McQuiston. "Pedometers are easy and inexpensive ways to track your activity on the go. You can also explore smart phone apps and trackers." She also advises that when getting together with family and friends to consider taking walks at an indoor mall and when possible, opt for the stairs.
- Consider a Course Correction. "Our eating habits change with the seasons," explains McQuiston. "It makes sense during the holidays to check in with your doctor about how you are doing, including an HbA1c test to check your levels. The HbA1c test is a blood test that reflects a person’s average blood glucose levels over the past three months. If you’ve reached your goals, congratulations! If not, you and your doctor can discuss how to get back on track."
- Recognize World Diabetes Day and Learn More about this Serious Health Threat
- Diagnosing Diabetes: It’s in the Blood -- Research Summary
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- American Diabetes Association