Living with diabetes, you are already hyper-aware of food, but the holidays seem to heighten that awareness. Faced with your aunt’s delicious homemade cornbread and your grandma’s famous sweet potato casserole, you may find yourself digging through your closet for your old carbohydrate-counting books and guessing at your insulin adjustments. Who wants to go through the holidays with the added stress of high blood sugars and associated mood swings, especially when your family is already driving you nuts? No, thanks.
So, what’s a person with diabetes to do? For me, being aware of and in tune with my body and the stress I’m feeling is the key. If I am aware that I am feeling a certain way, then I can do something about it. Sounds easy, right? Well, it actually takes time to train yourself to really be tuned in to your feelings. I definitely know that I need some time to myself around the holidays to collect my thoughts and figure out where I want my energy to go. Sure, it would be nice to do everything and make everyone happy, but prioritizing is important.
If you are having problems controlling your sugars due to stress, one thing that I find helpful is to go outside. It’s simple and easy, but it always makes me feel normal. A quick walk gets my blood pumping and usually helps me connect with myself again.
As far as food goes, enjoy it! The holidays are a time when you are supposed to splurge a little bit. There is no need to be super careful about every little thing that you put in your mouth. Denying yourself causes feelings of annoyance and frustration, and that pressure will only heighten your stress.
I am not advising you to go crazy and eat every sugar-filled treat that looks good. Instead, splurge on one thing that you don’t usually get to have, and really enjoy it. Bringing a healthy dish to a party is one way that you can control the carbohydrates in something you enjoy. If you have a great recipe for a sugar-free or low-sugar dessert, making it can be a good way to ensure that you are satisfied and feel comfortable. Knowing that you can eat something, knowing the carbs, and taking the correct insulin will ease the stress.
Another tip is to check your sugars more often. Often, due to the nature of diabetes, you will need to raise your insulin levels for the holidays. Bumping your basal rates up a bit or taking a couple of extra units a day may be helpful if you know that you usually run high around that time. Checking more often will prevent lows as well. Obviously, it would be best to consult your doctors before the holiday season, so that they can help you figure out what to do in all situations.
The holidays are stressful and there will be food temptations, so be prepared! Know your body and know your limits. Like everyone else, you can enjoy the holidays. Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and make sure that you are able to disconnect from the madness a couple of times.
The holidays are a time for family, friends, and celebration! Don’t stress too much about controlling your sugars. Just do the best you can. Check your sugars often and take more insulin if needed. Have a great holiday season!