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How can I control my blood sugar over the holidays?

Watch what you eat! Candies, snacks, beverages and desserts add up quickly. Plan ahead if you are going to indulge in sweets. Take small portions and keep in mind your sugar will spike more if you eat sweets alone rather than with a meal. If you are taking insulin, ask your doctor if you need to adjust your dosage during the holidays. If you are already using a "carb-count" to dose your insulin it should not need any additional adjustment.

For most people, holidays are a time of celebration with family and food. The holiday focus on food, however, can also make it difficult to manage blood sugar. With some planning, you can still enjoy the holidays while protecting your health.

  • Maintain a heart-healthy diet. A heart-healthy diet is good for everyone, including people with diabetes. In general, your diet should be nutritionally balanced, high in fiber, low in fat (especially saturated fat) and moderate-to-low in salt. Load up with vegetables; choose lean meats, chicken and fish - and prepare them by baking or broiling; choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products; avoid high-sodium processed foods and limit how much salt you add to food; and enjoy some fresh fruit every day. As for how much you should eat of starchy foods like bread, pasta, potatoes and rice, follow the advice of your doctor and dietitian. Finally, watch the calories. Too much of any food can cause you to gain weight, and that will make it hard to control your diabetes.
  • Limit alcohol. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit it to one drink for women and two drinks for men per day. (One drink is a 12-ounce beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled alcohol.) Keep in mind that alcohol has a lot of calories. In addition, it tends to raise blood levels of triglycerides.
  • Exercise. Stick with your exercise plan. The goal for most people is at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. Exercise helps make the body's cells more responsive to insulin.
  • Medications. As always, be sure to take insulin or oral anti-diabetic medications and any cardiovascular medications exactly as prescribed.
  • Never go to a holiday party hungry. Small frequent meals (at least three) are a good way to keep you satisfied. If you go to a party hungry, you are more likely to eat too much.
  • Plan ahead. When going to a party, if possible, suggest to the hostess that you bring a heart-healthy dish with you.
  • Control portions. At a buffet-style gathering, try filling your plate only once with a reasonable, healthy portion of food. This will keep you from absent-mindedly eating bite after bite, losing track of the total amount of food.
Jennifer L. McDaniel
Nutrition & Dietetics

Add some spice to your life to help maintain blood sugars over the holidays. Cinnamon, a common household spice, has been shown to help improve blood sugar regulation & also slow the emptying of food from the stomach. Most health professionals recommend that you consume 1/2 a tsp. a day. The ideal time to take in cinnamon is with a carbohydrate-rich meal such as oatmeal for breakfast. Isn't it great when natural supporters taste delicious? 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.