November 17, 2016

Diabetes and the Holidays – Survival Strategies to Help Keep You Healthy

Most of us who struggle with weight issues or the concept of healthy eating know that the majority of the battle takes place in the mind. During the holiday season there is so much mental and emotional pressure centered around meals and social eating that we often give in and eat far more than we should. Here are strategies that may help win the battle of the will during holiday food-centric festivities, and ensure the proper management of your diabetes.

shutterstock-holiday-dinner-family-afamGo Ahead and Spoil Your Dinner

You know what’s coming, right? Lots of great smelling, beautifully prepared holiday dishes loaded with fat and carbohydrates. You know you’ll be tempted, so be proactive and snack on healthy foods before coming to the family feast. Be full of vegetables, fruit, nuts or lean meats before you enter the pleasure dome.

Be Ready to Move

Don’t just sit around and watch parades and ball games with handfuls of chips and cans of beer. Come to the family gathering prepared for action. Spend time with kids and high-energy family members. Bring your football or basketball and have a game in the back yard. Go for a walk or drive with friends and family — whatever it takes to spend time away from the kitchen and the tempting aromas.

Gather with the Right People

Are there other family members or friends who are trying to control their weight or calorie intake? Hang with them! Provide (and receive) any encouragement and support you can find. Discuss your healthy eating goals and accomplishments. Success breeds success, so remembering and celebrating your wins with other like-minded friends helps keep temptation at bay.

Bring Your Own Healthy Foods

Be the trendsetter who brings the vegetable tray or nonglazed ham to share. Usually healthy dishes are in short supply at the holiday table — but bright and colorful vegetable and fruit selections make delightful visual and tasty culinary additions to the festive spread. Take pride in bringing wholesome food, and you can even have seconds!

Start a New Tradition

If the holiday gathering has always been about eating — try to make it about talking, storytelling, laughing, singing, dancing, looking at old family photos — whatever it takes to shift the focus away from the dinner table.

Know What to Say When Turning Down Food

Is it hard to tell your favorite aunt that you just can’t eat her sugary sweet potato casserole? Have a few flattering lines in the back of your head to defuse the guilt: “I’d love some of that casserole, Aunt Irma, but I’d much rather have a big hug!”

Plan Ahead, Then Plan Some More

Since holiday events and gatherings often disrupt your daily routine, take time to plan for how a mid-afternoon or late-night meal might alter your medication schedule. Know that time on the road or in the air may affect your eating. Bring a surplus of diabetes supplies in case of travel delays. Keep your health insurance card and physician information handy — and perhaps wear a medical alert ID. If you require insulin, bring a glucagon emergency kit, and pack your insulin supply in an insulated bag with cold gel packs. Know what you’ll need, and know you’re ready for the unexpected. This reduces your stress level and brings much needed peace of mind.

Know You Can Always Bounce Back

If you happen to eat too much unhealthy food, just know you can get up and move around more. You can choose to eat less later. Never give up on yourself, and know that every coming minute offers a fresh start at making healthy eating choices.


Education and support can mean the difference between a healthy life and one cut short or diminished by the myriad of problems facing people with diabetes. Since 1994, Mission Health’s Diabetes Management program has received the certificate of recognition from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for meeting the national standards of diabetes self-management education. We provide exceptional support for members of our community who struggle with diabetes. To learn more about diabetes support at Mission Health, call (828) 213-4700.

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