Routines are an important part of the day-to-day management of diabetes, and holiday celebrations often disrupt them. Mealtimes are more variable and food is often more plentiful. The busier schedules around the holidays often result in skipping or delaying medications, monitoring blood glucose levels less often, and being less active.
How you celebrate the various holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Halal, Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid-ul-Fitr, New Year, and Kwanzaa is of course influenced by your family’s culture and traditions, and so our holiday customs vary a lot. Food often is a major part of these celebrations and it is also determined in part by our cultural background.
I can’t address all traditions in this blog but I would like to share a few strategies that might help you take good care of yourself in spite of the seasonal feasts and parties. Interestingly, our attitudes towards holiday celebrations might be more important than what we put on our plates!
Some strategies for thriving during the holidays
Mealtimes. Schedule your holiday meals at your usual times, so you can easily keep taking your medications at the regular times. This shows you understand how timing of medications and food intake work together.
Carbohydrates. Well before the meal, check the carbohydrate content of menu items so that you can work out a sample menu that meets your carbohydrate goals. This shows you value the principle of moderation. A Thanksgiving Day meal plan that provides 1,600 calories for the day is available at http://www.diabetes.org/mfa-recipes/meal-plans.
What’s central? Think about what is important to you. Is it the food or the time spent with family and friends, attendance at religious programs, or experiences cooking, baking, or playing games with the children and grandchildren? Enjoy your food, but show how important family is by spending time with them.
Physical activity. Many communities sponsor family walks during the holiday season. Grab your coat and play a game of soccer or touch football, build a snowman, or use an electronic game system that keeps you moving or dancing. This shows you value the benefits of physical activity.
Many websites offer holiday recipes for people with diabetes. Try searching for “diabetic Kwanzaa recipes,” for example, or substitute the name of any holiday of your choice—Christmas, Eid-ul-Fitr, Hanukkah (Chanukah), Eid Al-Adha, etc. Generally, recipes from Diabetic Gourmet, Diabetic Connect, and dLifeare excellent. Also important: Choose websites that provide nutrition information for their recipes. Planning ahead to match your behaviors with your values can help those of you with diabetes maintain blood glucose control. You might even consider signing a holiday eating contract.
So, as the holiday season unfolds, sit down with your family and friends, set behavior goals for managing blood glucose levels, and enjoy meals and activities that are healthy for everyone.