By: Rosanne Rust MS, RDN, LDN —
A diagnosis with diabetes is life-changing, but it’s also a chance to prioritize your daily health choices more than you ever have. Hopefully you’ve had the opportunity to see a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator since your diagnosis, and were given a plan for diet, activity and blood glucose monitoring.
Understanding that what you eat can affect your blood sugar (or blood glucose) is the first step to successful blood sugar management. It also can help you plan for, and handle, the holiday season and other special occasions.
Knowing that holidays and celebrations occur on a periodic basis, a cornerstone to good blood sugar management is establishing, and sticking with, a daily routine. Since food has an immediate impact on blood sugar, eating around the same amount, at about the same times, can help you understand and better match your insulin needs and help you establish consistency in your blood sugar, eating, and exercise schedule.
It’s also important to apply these key principles to diabetes management:
Having diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally enjoy a sweet treat. However, high sugar foods may wreak havoc on your blood glucose levels, contain lots of calories, and are generally void of nutrients. With this in mind, you may rationalize removing all sweets from your diet is a good plan, but avoiding sugar may not make your sweet cravings disappear. Further, what happens when special occasions or holidays arise that threaten your daily routine?
Have a Plan for Sweet Cravings and Special Occasions
Thanksgiving will usher in the holiday season of special foods and family gatherings, so now is a good time to prepare for those occasions. Having a strategy in place will help you maintain good blood glucose control.
Many people with diabetes struggle with their choices during the holidays, when they attend more public or family gatherings that revolve around indulgent food. It’s okay to plan for higher sugar foods, but it’s also a good idea to offer to bring a healthy dish, or an alternative dessert.
Talk to your diabetes educator about adjustments in insulin or activity in order to manage splurges. These options allow you to enjoy a sweet treat, while contributing less carbohydrate to your diet:
We see a lot of extremes being promoted when it comes to diets these days. Only people who have diabetes truly understand what it’s like to have diabetes. Seek support, be realistic with your goals, and don’t be too hard on yourself. (Check in annually with your certified diabetes educator or endocrinologist as needed). If your blood sugar is higher than usual after a holiday meal, or a vacation day, don’t panic or get down on yourself.
Getting off track isn’t the end of the world, but getting back on track is important. If you overeat, continue to check your blood sugar, remind yourself of your daily routine, and focus on getting back under control. You can still enjoy the holiday season, allow a few treats, and stay on track as long as you stay active, have a plan, and be kind to yourself.
Rosanne Rust MS, RDN, LDN is a registered, licensed dietitian-nutritionist with over 25 years experience. As a Nutrition Communications Consultant she delivers clear messages helping you understand the science of nutrition so you can enjoy eating for better health. Rosanne is the co-author of several books, including DASH Diet For Dummies® and the The Glycemic Index Cookbook For Dummies®. A wife, and mother of 3 boys, she practices what she preaches, enjoying regular exercise, good food and festive entertaining. Follow her on Twitter @RustNutrition.