Whether you believe it or not, there’s no denying: The holidays are knocking at our door. For many of us, holidays include physical travel and a light vacation from our everyday diet.
If you have diabetes, the change in routine during this time of year can be one of your biggest holiday challenges. Planning ahead can help you manage the holiday season and your diabetes.
While travelling, it’s important to pack twice the amount of diabetes supplies you think you will need, in the event of emergencies or delays. When flying, bring all of these supplies in your carry-on bag, and keep medications, snacks, meal replacements and glucose gels or tablets at your seat for easy access.
If a meal is served on the flight, be sure to call ahead to request a diabetic meal. If you take insulin, contact the manufacturer for any special instructions on the pressure change of the plane. Get any recommended immunizations and always carry or wear your medical information indicating that you are indeed diabetic.
So, what about those holiday meals? Kendra Grinde-Busalacchi, RDN, CDE, a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator with Sharp Grossmont Hospital, says diabetes and the holidays can be successfully comanaged.
“Having diabetes should not deter you from enjoying the festivities and traditional meals,” says Grinde-Busalacchi. “With some preparation and planning, you can still celebrate with your favorite holiday dishes.”
Some of her tips for enjoying the season include:
- Asking the host ahead of time what will be served, and bringing a healthy favorite side dish to share
- Filling at least half of your plate with colorful vegetables, and choosing those without sauces and dressing to keep sodium intake at a minimum
- Eating a small snack before you go to celebrations so you don’t arrive hungry; this helps to avoid overeating and making poor food choices
Staying active during the holidays is also important. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity, five days per week, for a total of 150 minutes per week. If this needs to be broken down into smaller increments throughout the day, that works too.
Finally, Grinde-Busalacchi offers a valuable piece of advice to everyone that the feast need not be the center of your attention: “Focus on family, friends and activities instead of food.”