Your Guide to Managing Type II Diabetes During the Holidays
For many people, the holidays mean eating various kinds of treats—from a mug of hot chocolate to a plate of Christmas cookies. But for those with type II diabetes, these holiday sweets can severely impact overall health.
If you are managing type II diabetes, your cells are already resistant to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. With a diet high in glucose (sugar), the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin, and the body fails to balance blood sugar levels. According to the CDC, high blood sugar contributes to “heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.”
Type II diabetes management means being mindful of the food you put in your body— sometimes the opposite of what we do during the holidays.
It’s may seem easy to throw in the towel and let healthy habits slide, but we’re here to tell you that managing type II diabetes during the holidays is possible—you can take care of your body and still indulge in delicious foods!
How to Manage Type II Diabetes During the Holiday Season
Decrease Blood Sugar Spikes
The last three major holidays of the year—Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas—all involve large amounts of high-calorie, sugary food. Especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas, we tend to try and “save up” our calories by skipping meals. This only results in lowered blood sugar levels, feeling “hangry,” and overeating next time we consume a meal.
When consuming foods higher in sugar, be careful not to eat on an empty stomach. While high-sugar foods may be higher in calories (aka energy), they result in blood sugar spikes. These spikes are uncomfortable and may lead to a higher incidence of diabetes burnout, depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and mood swings. No one wants to feel stressed and fatigued during the holidays.
Embrace Alternative Sweeteners
You can still enjoy sweets during the holidays by using alternative sweeteners that taste just as great but don’t raise blood sugar levels. Stevia and monk fruit are two highly popular natural sweeteners. Both options have zero calories and carbohydrates, ideal for individuals with type II diabetes.
It’s possible to sweeten recipes just using fruit—such as overripe bananas. If you’re craving something sweet on the go, try grabbing an apple or orange to satisfy your sweet tooth with a higher-nutrient food.
Managing type II diabetes doesn’t mean skipping out on events and gatherings with family and friends. It just means being more mindful about what you’re eating and relying on alternative menu options if what’s being served doesn’t contribute to your health.
There’s no shame in asking a host for a menu list. Many parties are potluck-style, so consider bringing your own diabetes-friendly dish. Before joining the buffet line, be sure to scan the food options and decide what you’re going to eat before you’re faced with all the options. Construct meals that are balanced, with plenty of protein and fats to keep you satisfied and balance out carbs and sugar.
Go Beyond Nutrition
Managing type II diabetes during the holidays doesn’t stop with nutrition, just like a healthy lifestyle means more than healthy eating.
With the hustle and bustle of this season, collapsing onto the couch might be a tempting use of our spare time. This holiday, make an effort to exercise consistently and in a way that fits your lifestyle. No need to purchase a gym membership—walk or run around your neighborhood, find at-home workouts online, or pick up a casual sport like tennis.
Holiday to-do lists are seemingly endless, so make an effort to stay consistent with your sleep schedule. And don’t forget to take care of your mental health, as this can be a stressful season for many people.
Finally, don’t forget about the normal seasonal illnesses circling around! Bundle up, wash your hands, and avoid spreading germs by not touching your face and mouth.
Have a Very Merry Holiday
Remember to enjoy the food you eat, regardless of its nutritional value. Don’t feel the need to “make up for” your food choices—just continue your healthy habits as normal!
Here at True Life Medicine, we wish you a wonderful holiday season, and we’re here to help you manage type II diabetes during the holidays. With a caring team of professionals and innovative technology, we believe there’s a path to true health, and we’re available to help you find it and live it.