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November 25, 2013

Bee Healthy: Managing diabetes through the holidays

When I meet with patients with diabetes and prediabetes at the start of the new year, I hear similar stories: “The holidays really set me back.” “I let my food and exercise plan slip.” “I just stopped checking my blood sugar because I didn’t want to know.”

When I meet with patients with diabetes and prediabetes at the start of the new year, I hear similar stories: “The holidays really set me back.” “I let my food and exercise plan slip.” “I just stopped checking my blood sugar because I didn’t want to know.”

As the holiday season ramps up, attention to diabetes doesn’t have to drop to the bottom of the to-do list. You will feel physically and mentally better if you keep your health goals a priority.

One of the easiest things to continue through the holidays is exercise. Your walking routine may not be at the usual time, but it can be in 10-minute bouts during the day, during breaks at work or during shopping trips, for example. Get your friends and family together to play a team sport such as basketball or football to get your heart pumping. Strengthen muscles with an easily portable resistance band between obligations.

When challenged with multiple food-related events, consider bringing your own healthful dish to share, such as a fruit salad, a vegetable tray, or low-calorie beverages. If you are hosting an event, reduce buffet and appetizer options. Balanced eating is a prescription for everyone, diabetes or not. Try to make the event less food-focused by playing games, dancing, or watching funny movies.

Just like food and exercise, stress can affect glucose readings. The holiday season isn’t the best time to take on extra tasks. Do your best not to overschedule yourself, and delegate jobs whenever possible. “Simplify” is a good strategy to keep stress levels down. Save that complicated recipe for another time of year.

Even if you don’t have diabetes or prediabetes, chances are you have a friend or loved one with the condition. Provide a lift from the burden of diabetes and incorporate some of these ideas into your holiday plans. Sometimes simply taking a walk together speaks volumes about how you care about that person.

Healthier habits during the holiday season will make the new year less of a time to resolve to do better and more of a time to celebrate what you have accomplished. Cheers to positive health habits year-round!

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