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Surviving The Holidays With Diabetes

7 Tips To Stay On Track During The Holidays

The holidays are a time to eat, drink, and be merry! However, eating and drinking sugary foods and drinks can make it difficult to manage weight and control blood sugars—which might not leave you feeling merry. Here are seven tips you’ll need to survive this holiday season and stay on track with your diabetes management:

#1: Be a Healthy Host

If you are the person hosting the holiday party, you likely have a big to-do list. This may include meal planning, grocery shopping, baking, cooking, cleaning, decorating, and setting the table—did I miss anything? Make sure to take care of yourself in the days leading up to the holiday party, so that you can take care of your guests. To keep your blood sugar controlled, eat your meals on time and maintain a consistent sleep schedule. And if you’re taking medications, set reminders to take them!

#2: Bring a Healthy Dish to Share

If you are a holiday party guest, you may have been assigned to bring an appetizer, side dish, entrée, or dessert. You might expect Aunt Betty’s sugary pecan pie and cousin Eddy’s super sweet eggnog to be at the party, both of which can send your blood sugar through the roof. This is your chance to bring something healthy to the table! A healthy dish will not only be great for you but for your family as well. Try swapping out a traditional dish made with sugar for one made with a Splenda Granulated Sweetener, Splenda Sugar Blend, or Splenda Brown Sugar Blend. Or you can explore the hundreds of delicious Splenda recipes here. Two great holiday dishes are these Cinnamon Roasted Carrots & Cranberries and Mini Mince Pies, both of which are Diabetes-Friendly Recipes!

#3: Avoid Skipping Meals

Many people choose to skip out on breakfast and lunch the day of a holiday in order to “save” themselves for the big holiday dinner. For people with diabetes, this can have consequences. First, it can lead to blood sugar dips, especially if you are taking certain diabetes medications like insulin or a sulfonylurea. Second, it can leave you feeling really hungry, which leads to overeating at the dinner meal and thus blood sugar spikes.

You don’t necessarily need to eat a BIG breakfast or lunch the day of a holiday, but these meals should at least be balanced and well-spaced. For breakfast, try something light like this Berry Almond Oatmeal made with Splenda Sweetener Packets, and for lunch make a simple turkey sandwich paired with these Sweet and Crunchy Deli-Style Pickles made with Splenda Granulated Sweetener. Another great option is to replace your breakfast or lunch with a Splenda Diabetes Care Shake. Each 8-ounce shake contains a unique blend of high-quality protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats that can help manage blood sugar and keep you feeling full.

#4: Don’t Linger Around The Food Table

Lingering around the food table can lead to mindless eating, which is eating when distracted or not being fully aware of what or how much you are eating. Unsurprisingly, the opposite of mindless eating is mindful eating. Mindful eating is being intentional about what you are taking from the food table. You are fully aware of the food—how it tastes and smells, its texture, and how it makes you feel. When you practice mindful eating, you are in control and thus usually eat less.

#5: Plan Out Your Plate

Regardless of whether the food is served from the kitchen (buffet-style) or from the table (family-style), you should scope out all your options before plating your food. Otherwise, you may end up with a heaping plate of starchy sides and very little protein and vegetables.

Be selective. Of course include your favorites, but ensure that you still watch your portion sizes. You can use the Diabetes Plate Method for guidance! Start by filling half your plate with nonstarchy vegetables, such as these Sweet Glazed Carrots made with Splenda Granulated Sweetener. Next, fill a quarter of your plate with protein, such as ham topped with this Splenda Holiday Ham Glaze. Finally, fill the last quarter of your plate with carbohydrate foods, such as this Classic Sweet Potato Casserole made with Splenda Brown Sugar Blend or this Noodle Kugel made with Splenda Sugar Blend.

#6: Think About Your Drink

Drinks can be a major source of “hidden” calories and sugars in the diet. That’s because they don’t feel as filling as food, so you may not realize how many calories and sugars you’re actually getting. For example, a regular 12-ounce cola contains around 140 calories and 40 grams of added sugars! That is more added sugar than a person should have in an entire day! The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 24 grams per day for most women and 36 grams per day for most men.1

Instead of sweetening your holiday tea or coffee with sugar, use Splenda Sweetener Packets or Splenda Sweetener Liquids. And if you like cream in your coffee, check out our Splenda Coffee Creamers, which come in three delicious flavors: French Vanilla, Sweet Cream, and Hazelnut. If you enjoy drinking water with your meal but want some flavor, try using Splenda Liquid Water Enhancers. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to make a fun holiday drink from scratch, check out our drink recipes. This Peppermint Mocha and this French Vanilla Eggnog are perfect for the season!

#7: Move After The Meal

The last thing you should do after a big holiday meal is lay on the couch as this can lead to high blood sugars. Get up and move! Go for a walk with a family member or friend after the meal. Play in the leaves or snow with your children or grandchildren. Or play a game of flag football in the yard—the options are endless! Just make sure to test your blood sugar before and after physical activity or as directed by your healthcare professional. Physical activity can affect people with diabetes’s blood sugar in different ways, so it’s always best to check in with your healthcare professional!

Written by Holly Moran, MS, RDN, LD, CDCES and member of the Splenda Health Science team.