Sugar and the holidays

Dessert tray with cookies and bar cookies

Cropped image. La Citta Vita, Flickr. CC License.

From Trick-or-Treat parties to Valentine’s Day, boxes of chocolate can be a hard time of the year for individuals with diabetes. This is five straight months of caramel apples, turkey and dressing, sweet potato versus pumpkin pie, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes with gravy, ham, cranberry sauce, red velvet cake, fruit cake, apple pie, chocolate-covered strawberries, and sugar cookies with sprinkles. To survive the holidays and still stay on track with your diabetes regimen, you have to have a plan. Below are some tips to enjoy both the sugar and holidays!

Burn to earn

Exercise is a good way to maintain great health during the holidays. Implementing exercise at least 30 minutes a day or a few times throughout the week can help keep your blood sugars in control, as well as decrease your stress levels. So when you have that extra piece of deliciousness you can feel less guilty because you “worked” for it. Treat yourself and enjoy!

Size does matter

That extra piece of deliciousness does not have to be humongous! Remember: The holidays are about sharing so leave some for the next person. If you are hosting a party, consider pre-cutting the desserts and preparing the plates to monitor portions. This way everyone has the same amount and those with diabetes may not feel as though they have less than everyone else.

Eat before you go

There are a lot of holiday parties to attend this time of year. Eating something before you go will help you stay on track and not overindulge. Another thought is to plan what you will eat at the party (if you know what will be served) and eating lighter during the day.

Lovely leftovers

You don’t have to eat everything in one day; besides leftovers are sometimes better the next day! Plan to eat leftovers for the next few days or week. This way you are able to enjoy the deliciousness a bit longer than everyone else and continue to monitor your portions.

Managing your diabetes during the five-month sugar fest is possible. You know yourself and your diabetes best so plan accordingly. If you struggle with self-control, take a friend with you and they can be your sugar sponsor or your designated dessert detour person! Plan to attend a few parties, not all of them. Challenge your friends and family to make the same dishes but healthier and have a contest to make eating healthy and fun. Yes, you can be the taster and judge the contest!

– Carnigee Truesdale-Howard, PsyD, ABPP, Pediatric Psychologist with Beaumont Children’s Hospital Divisions of Hematology/Oncology & Gastroenterology

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