Sugar, spice and everything nice: Helping your diabetic child navigate the holidays


Elementary-age girl holding a mug of hot chocolate

Unaltered image. Anders Ruff Custom Designs, Flickr. CC License.

’Tis the season of sweets and treats and we all look forward to this time of the year! There are Thanksgiving dishes full of starches and carbs, Christmas cakes dripping with frosting and Valentine chocolates. However for kids with diabetes, this time of year can be very hard. Five months of resisting sweet treats at family gatherings and school holiday parties can be a lot to ask for from a youngster. Below are some tips to help your child during the holiday season stay on track with their diabetes management.

Role model

You can’t expect your child to limit his sugar consumption when your plate is full of cake and cookies. If you got seconds on Grandma’s candied yams, then your youngster is going to expect to get seconds, too. When everyone eats the same dessert or has the same size portions, then kids tend to not feel different and as though they are being treated unfairly.

Optical illusion

Portion control is a big part of managing diabetes. If you know that your child has a favorite dish that he will want seconds or even thirds of, consider giving a smaller size portion the first round and maybe delay seconds or thirds by several hours and incorporate into the next scheduled meal/snack. Another option is to put more vegetables on your child’s plate and fewer starchy foods to make it look fuller.


Sometimes when kids make their own foods they are more inclined to eat it. The catch here is making the food healthier. Find holiday recipes that may limit sugar or make desserts that don’t require frosting. Tell your kids that the family is going to eat healthier this holiday season as opposed to making your child feel that she’s the reason for the change in meal preparation. Having the kids be involved in the cooking process is a great way to bond, but also shows them that managing their diabetes through food can be fun and tasty at the same time!


Many kids’ favorite classes in school are lunch and recess. Make sure you carve out time for recess a few times a week, if not daily, especially while school’s out during the holiday season. Find activities that are fun and require exerting high amounts of energy such as ice skating, sledding or even playing tag. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor activities that families can do together this holiday season. Recess is a good way to help manage diabetes.

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

1 Response to “Sugar, spice and everything nice: Helping your diabetic child navigate the holidays”

  1. 1 Anonymous December 9, 2015 at 11:32 am


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