The winter holidays can be a difficult time for anyone trying to avoid sugar. Whether you’re a person with diabetes trying to count carbs, a person watching their figure, or just someone without a sweet tooth, this time of year can feel like you’re dodging landmines. It’s notorious for homemade cakes, cookies, and candies that throw us off our diet plans and plunge us into a sugar land. Even main courses like ham come slathered in honey and brown sugar glazes. With all the yummy treats available between now and New Year's, how do we stay on top of our dieting?
The most important way to stay on top of your diet is to have one. While everyone can benefit from conscientious eating, for people with diabetes, it's especially important. The foods we eat affect our blood sugar, which affects the insulin we take and how we feel. Failure to prepare can lead to highs and lows that leave us feeling sick, the last thing we want when we're spending time with our loved ones.
You can prepare ahead of time by using a variety of meal plans that are diabetes-friendly. Using carb counting, the plate method or other eating protocols can help you manage your blood sugar year-round. Additionally, preparing healthy alternatives can help you enjoy your favorites without worrying about what they will do to your blood sugar. Baking and cooking with sugar-free sweeteners can be a simple way to adapt recipes to make sure they’re diabetes-friendly. If you’re not sure whether friends or families will prepare foods that fit your needs, offer to bring your own!
Part of your plan should include enjoying the foods you love. Nothing should be off-limits, though it might be wise to moderate some foods. For example, if you love desserts, you might plan on avoiding the starchy vegetables. Alternatively, you may choose to skip pie so you can have your favorite dinner rolls. Choosing which carb-heavy foods you indulge in can keep you on track with your planned carbs for the day.
Be sure that as you plan when you’ll indulge the most, you don’t plan on skipping meals. While it sounds like a good idea, skipping meals and then binging will wreak havoc on your blood sugar as you rapidly bounce from a low blood sugar to a high blood sugar. Additionally, the hunger from skipping meals will make you more likely to overeat. Keeping regular mealtimes is the best way to stay in tune with your body and with your diet.
We love to keep moving here at Skin Grip. We think exercise is a great way to manage our blood sugar. Holiday trips, visits, and activities can interfere with even the most disciplined routines. While the holidays may keep you away from your normal gym, there are still plenty of ways to get a quick workout in and keep those blood sugars down. A quick walk or jog can be done almost anywhere and are a great way to get your blood pumping. If you’re stuck inside, doing bodyweight exercises like squats, pushups, or situps can help keep your routine.
Getting a workout in doesn’t just keep you in your routine and help regulate your blood sugar; it will help relieve stress. A long walk in the sunshine or a quick HIIT routine will release those endorphins and keep you feeling relaxed and cheery while you’re spending time with your family.
You have your plan, you’re bringing your favorite foods, and you pack your running shoes before you travel for the winter holidays. You’re sitting at the airport when you realize you forgot your insulin. Your only option is to miss the flight; after all, we can’t just not have insulin. This can be avoided by making a list of your medical supplies and checking it twice. Even if you don’t forget your insulin, there may be a variety of products you use that might not leave you in a crisis, as much as irritated. For example, forgetting your Skin Tac, our new Underlayer, or other supplies that protect your skin. Maybe you use our adhesive patches or tape for your insulin pump, and without it, your pump dangles and catches on your clothes.
Prepare your supplies ahead of time to avoid forgetting them. If you plan on flying, be sure to pack them into your carry-on bag in case your luggage gets lost. You may even want to pack a few extras in case something goes wrong (though our overpatches for the Freestyle Libre, Medtronic Guardian, or Dexcom G6 can prevent things from going wrong). Once you have everything packed, double-check before leaving that you have everything ready. Even if you’re just spending the day at a nearby relative’s house, you don’t want the hassle of realizing you left your mealtime insulin at home just before dinner with loved ones.
The most important part of preparing for holidays as a person with diabetes is to look ahead, be prepared, and continue to take care of yourself. Holidays might throw us out of our routine, but that’s no reason to be afraid. Diabetes can’t hold us back, as long as we have the tools and the know-how to get out there and live the good life.
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