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How to Manage Diabetes Through the Holidays

Candy corn, turkey feasts, and sugar cookies galore — It’s that time of year again to spend time with loved ones and indulge in holiday delicacies, but it can be difficult to really enjoy the holiday season when you have diabetes. 

Everything from a co-worker’s innocent platter of Christmas cookies to the stack of invitations to parties you know will feature bowls of temptations can make you want to hibernate until spring. 

Before you turn off your porch light and button up your sashes, consider our expert’s advice. 

At Woodstock Family Practice & Urgent Care, Dr. James Lee understands that your love for the season and desire to manage your diabetes often contradict each other. He wants to help you get the best of both worlds, so he’s sharing his best holiday survival tips for diabetics. 

Why is diabetes tricky during the holidays?

When you eat anything, your body starts to process it to be used for energy, stored as fat, etc. Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar and then released into your bloodstream. 

When your pancreas detects a spike in your blood sugar, it secretes the hormone insulin, which turns sugar into usable energy. 

If you have diabetes, your body either can’t make enough insulin (Type 1 diabetes, accounting for about 5%-10% of diabetics) on its own or can’t properly use the insulin (Type 2 diabetes, 90%-95% of diabetics). This malfunction leaves your blood saturated with glucose, and if left untreated, other serious health problems begin to manifest. 

The holidays can be a tricky time if you have diabetes because controlling your blood sugar relies on careful diet choices. But it doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. 

Dr. Lee wants you to enjoy this time of year even if you have diabetes. Here are his best tips to manage your diabetes when faced with fare on the forbidden-foods list 

Check your blood sugar frequently 

This is the best way to make sure you don’t overdo it during the holidays. When there are surprise candy bars on your work desk and parties every weekend, it's best to know exactly where you stand with your blood sugar. 

Maintain your eating schedule

Did you have one too many treats at lunch? Are you anticipating a massive meal for dinner with your friends? You might be tempted to skip meals during the day to make up or prepare for overindulging, but that actually hurts you more than it helps. 

Skipping meals throws your blood sugar out of whack and may cause you to overeat at your next meal, so try your best to maintain a regular eating schedule. 

Be careful of your alcohol intake

Alcohol is full of calories and sugar that you may not account for. Be sure you know exactly what you’re drinking, and limit your alcohol consumption to one drink if you’re a woman or two if you’re a man. 

Budget your treats

Think of sugar as money and make a budget — and stick to it. Include any cookies, candies, and other sweets in your carbohydrate allowance. For example, if your choices for carbs are mashed potatoes, bread, and your grandma’s famous pumpkin pie, decide on one, and supplement the rest of your plate with meat and veggies. 

Set up mobile tools

Technology is your best friend when you have diabetes. Many smartphone apps allow you to track your food, get accurate macronutrient information, and even get suggestions on how much insulin to take. 


Bring your own food. If you’re not sure what kind of food will be available to you at a party, bring a vegetable-based appetizer or diabetes-friendly treats. Always have snacks on hand if you get stuck at a party with only high-fat, high-sugar options. 

Party smartly

When you walk into a party, temptation greets you at the door. You can fight back with a few smart party hacks. 

Go for the vegetable platters first instead of the carb-heavy snacks. Using a napkin instead of a plate will help you maintain portion control. 

Circulate around the room and don’t stand near the snack and drink tables. It’s also best to drink lots of water or club soda to avoid calorie-dense drinks, keep your hands busy, and satisfy your appetite. 

Stay active

You’re going to have lots of well-deserved time off over the next few months. Use those vacation days wisely by staying active and making smart diet choices. Integrate exercise into family activities, or do a few short workouts during the day if you can’t manage longer sessions. 

So let the festivities begin, and don’t be afraid to join in. You can still achieve your health goals and delight in the season. 

Call our Woodstock, Georgia, office at 770-927-8273, or schedule an appointment online if you’d like more information about diabetes or other health concerns. 

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