The holiday season is a very tempting time of your to fill your mouth with empty carbohydrates and sweets, which can be unhealthy especially if you have diabetes. However, everyone should be able to partake in a little holiday indulgence, regardless if they have a health condition (and as long as your doctor seems okay with it).
Here are six sweet ways to manage diabetes over the holidays…
1. Closely Monitor Symptoms
The key to enjoying the festive season when you have diabetes is to closely manage your symptoms, while making smart choices when it comes to eating and exercising.
Work with your doctor, or health care provider, to devise a plan where you can still be merry this time of year without experiencing a prolonged spike in your glucose meter reading.
2. Remove the Turkey Skin
The turkey is often the star of Christmas dinner, so you shouldn’t have to eat a substitute while your relatives are happily shoveling the delicious bird down their gullets. The BBC’s Good Food magazine notes that if you’re eating turkey this season, remove the skin and stick to lighter breast meat as this will help reduce calorie intake.
Meanwhile, you can still stuff yourself with stuffing, but the magazine recommends avoiding using high-fat sausage meat and turn to a delicious vegetarian stuffing recipe. Also be sure to should cook the stuffing as a separate dish from the turkey.
3. Don’t Surrender to Sweets
Aside from the carbohydrate-rich dinners and other meals during the season, there’s of course all of the baking that comes with it. Mmmm, the cookies, the brownies, the gingerbread men, the…yeah, you get it!
The American Diabetes Association says you shouldn’t have to completely retreat from sweets, but obviously there has to be some restraint for the good of your health. That means simply limiting the size of that slice of chocolate cake, or taking out a carb-rich item from your dinner to substitute with a treat after.
4. Mind your Intake of Wine
Alcohol is often a big part of the holidays, and it can be easy to over-indulge during in a social setting or during a Christmas party. However, drinking too much (especially fizzy and sugary alcoholic beverages) over the holiday season can make your blood sugar spike but can also leave you with low blood sugar, depending on a number of factors, according to Diabetes.co.uk.
The website notes that alcohol can affect each person with diabetes differently, and certain medications can also dictate the outcome of drinking. Taking meds can inhibit your liver from turning proteins into glucose, which can lead to hypoglycemia that can cause symptoms resembling being severely intoxicated (the condition can be very dangerous).
5. Don’t Drink on an Empty Stomach
Further to the previous point, drinking on an empty stomach can increase the chances of having severe side effects when you’re dealing with diabetes. HealthLinkBC notes that just 2 drinks containing alcohol without eating can lead to low blood sugar, which can be (dangerously) confused with drunkenness.
The health source recommends checking your glucose levels before you drink, to ensure it’s not already low. It also noted in some cases, drinking alcohol can cause a drop in blood sugar for a full day, so if you want to avoid these kinds of complications it’s probably best to forego drinking altogether.
6. Get Moving
The holidays are also another great excuse to sit on the couch and watch all of your favorite seasonal movies, or just sit and chat with friends and family. While this all sounds great, it’s not going to help your body deal with properly processing the food and drink that (we’re going to assume) you’ve consumed.
The Telegraph UK newspaper notes that adding just 15 minutes of deliberate exercise makes a big difference when added to your regular routine. That can equal a brisk walk around the block each day over the holiday season to help you manage your symptoms.