Strategies to handle the basics of diabetes for the holidays

diabetes managment fall halloween holiday food thanksgiving Oct 31, 2023

It is especially important to eat well. We have more darkness in the winter and holidays that can be wonderful or depressing. It’s important to check in with yourself and ask, “What do I need to do to take care of myself during this holiday season?”

Processed and packaged food has most all its nutrients stripped out of it so the shelf life is extended for months. To make this food taste good to you so you will buy it and eat it, food manufacturers add flavorings, preservatives, colorings and if fat has been removed, add sugar for texture and taste. They also add a specific ratio of sugar, salt and fat to make the food taste especially good to you, making you want to eat more and more.

This is also an opportunity to reflect on how you manage your stress for the rest of this year. It’s important because stress leads to high cortisol levels. This is a survival hormone that causes changes in your body in preparation for fight, flight or freeze. In order to prepare you to fight or run, you need fuel. Cortisol causes blood sugar to be dumped into your blood stream so your muscles have the fuel they need to take action. Unfortunately, our stress tends to be chronic rather than acute so this additional glucose can stay in your system and mess with your blood sugar control. You might feel wired, anxious, irritable or sad.

Because it is getting dark sooner and longer, it’s important to get good quality sleep. This means sleeping deeply and for at least 7 – 9 hours if not a bit more. Our circadian rhythm responds to the dark of winter by making us sleep longer. If you are someone who sleeps well, you’re already there. If not, consider making it a goal to prioritize sleep ahead of long nights on the computer or phone or watching TV. Getting good sleep will make you feel like a new person!

Here are some strategies you might try.

For food: Try making simple homemade meals like soups or stews in a crockpot. Throw in a few ingredients and let it cook all day. You can dish out leftovers into individual containers and freeze. Then you have the convenience of having some meals on hand you can reheat.

For stress: One thing I do when I’m stressed is to get some paper out and start writing. I write to get the thoughts swirling in my head out. It releases the pressure inside me and helps me understand what is bothering me. I also like to go for walks, weather permitting. Being in nature helps calm us.

For sleep: Have regular bedtimes and wake times. Expand this a bit for the longer winter nights. Finish eating at least 3 hours before you go to bed. If you are having trouble relaxing, try a warm bath or shower. It can help you fall asleep.

Hopefully these will help you through the holidays with the energy and joy of the season.

Dr Elaine

Download my free 30 Day Guide to Manage or Reverse Type 2 Diabetes 

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.


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