Managing Blood Sugars During the Holidays

With the holidays right around the corner, keeping blood sugars in control can be somewhat of a challenge. Whether you’ve “fallen off the bandwagon” in the past or done a relatively good job eating healthy, the following suggestions may help you get through the holidays without cramping your lifestyle.

  • Always take your medications. Be sure to stay on a schedule with your medications and don’t forget them if you are traveling away from home. Don’t be embarrassed about having to take medications in front of family or friends. You can always excuse yourself and go to another room to check blood sugars and take medications. Most people will understand or won’t even notice.

  • Keep checking blood sugars as instructed by your doctor. When eating different foods and doing different activities you may find that managing blood sugars can be a bit more challenging. Continuing to check blood sugars is critical to staying in control.

  • Carry glucose tabs or another form of fast-acting sugar with you. As mentioned above, by doing other activities you may be more likely to have unexplained high or low blood sugars. Have a form of fast-acting sugar on hand in case of a low (e.g., glucose tabs).

  • Get some form of physical activity every day. Go for a walk after dinner, play with the kids, go dancing, etc. The holidays can bring many opportunities for activity with loved ones.

  • Eat a healthy snack before going to a party to avoid overeating unhealthy foods. When you are hungry you are much more likely to make unhealthy food decisions and temptations can be harder to resist. If you show up not hungry you are much more likely to resist those yummy temptations.

  • Find out what will be served before going to a party to plan it into your meal plan. There is no need to feel shy about asking the host of a party what will be served before showing up. When you know what will be served you can decide beforehand what you will eat and won’t have to make a decision in the moment (as it may be harder to make a healthy one).

  • Bring a healthy dish to a party to share with others! You can always bring something you can eat, and others will most likely appreciate it as well. With 1 in 11 Americans having Type 2 diabetes, and more than 1 in 3 having Pre-Diabetes (2), you aren’t alone!

  • While socializing, go to a room where the food isn’t being served to avoid snacking. Get yourself out of temptation’s way. If after a while of being away from it for a while and you want to eat, you can go back and consciously eat.

  • Choose low or no carb drinks such as sparkling water, unsweetened tea, or diet beverages. An easy way to avoid too many carbs is by avoiding sugary drinks. High sugar drinks can quickly put you over your carb limit.

  • Make the focus of your festivities people and activities instead of food. The holidays aren’t just about food. Enjoy the relationships you have and don’t be scared to strengthen them during the holidays.

  • When eating, focus on vegetables and protein before carbs. When loading up your plate, be aware of what has carbs and what doesn’t, to avoid setting yourself up for failure.

  • Don’t overeat. You’ll thank yourself later

  • Plan ahead if you will be traveling. Keep in mind different time zones, availability of a refrigerator and medications. Talk to your health care provider with more specifics if you are concerned.

  • Be wary of treats brought over by friends and neighbors. The holidays can be a time for baked sweets and sharing them. Graciously thank others for their thoughtfulness but don’t allow yourself to lose control. Plan treats into your meal plan if possible, and give the rest to someone who may want them.

 

Remember, the holidays are for enjoying and growing closer to others and not just about the food. By having good control of your Diabetes during the holidays, you will feel better and have better BGs without any regret (3).

 

References:

 

1. “Managing Your Diabetes During the Holidays.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.

2. “2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 May 2015. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.

3. “The Importance of Controlling Blood Sugar.” The Importance of Controlling Blood Sugar. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.

 

Annette Valle, RN, CDE

Fit4D CDE

Exercise and Diabetes

Everyone knows that getting regular physical activity is good for you, but it can be particularly beneficial for people with diabetes. Physical activity can help control blood sugar as well as relieve stress, improve heart health, strengthen the muscles and bones, and improve mood.  For a person with diabetes, activity helps the body become more sensitive to insulin to help improve a blood sugar control (1).

Despite these benefits, today’s world is full of barriers to actually doing exercise.  Time constraints, family obligations, a dislike for exercise, lack of gym funds, or not even knowing how to begin are some obstacles that can get in the way of starting an exercise routine.  While it can be easy to get stuck on the obstacles, thinking through and planning ahead can help you incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.

Here are some tips for making exercise part of your regular routine:

  • Schedule it in. Make exercise an appointment and stick to it!
  • Make it fun. If exercise is enjoyable, you are much more likely to do it. If you like to walk, try a beautiful park.  If you like to dance, turn on the radio and jam. If you like to be outside, join a community garden and sign up for gardening hours. If you like to be around others, join your local gym or city recreation center and take a class (any centers have free or low cost options). The opportunities are endless – find the ideal activity for you and mix it up!
  • Find a buddy to exercise with: Getting support for regular physical activity can help you to actually do it!
  • Sneaking in “incidental” activity: Take the stairs instead of the elevator or parking in the back of the parking lot instead of in front are additional ways to add activity into your daily routine.
  • Set up goals and rewards. You can’t get to where you are going if you don’t know your intended destination.  Try setting a time-oriented, realistic goal, and make it specific using the SMART acronym:
  • Specific: What will you do? Who will you do it with? When will you do it?
  • Measurable: How will you know when you achieve it? (e.g., walked a half a mile)
  • Achievable: Can you reasonably do it? (e.g., if you are just starting to exercise, setting a goal of running 10 miles isn’t realistic but starting with a half mile is)
  • Relevant: Is this something you can and want to do? (If you don’t like running choose another activity)
  • Timely: When will you do it?

Once you’ve set your SMART goal, find a buddy (friend or family member) to hold you to it and reward yourself when you reach your goal.  For example: “By Friday I will walk around the track 2 times after dinner on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and then I will go see the new movie on Saturday as my reward.”

Before starting any new exercise program, it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider. People with conditions involving the heart, eyes, kidney, and nerves may have limitations in the type and intensity of exercises they do. For a person with diabetes, it’s also important to make sure to be prepared for a possible low blood sugar.

Here are some tips for exercising with diabetes:

  • Know what low blood sugar is. Hypoglycemia is when blood sugar drops below 70 mg/dl.
  • Know the symptoms of low blood sugar. These may include feeling dizzy, shaky, light headed, irritable, and less coordinated.
  • Prepare and prevent hypoglycemia. Check blood sugar before exercising. If it’s below 100 mg/dl, have a snack of 15 grams carbohydrate, such as a piece of fruit.
  • Carry your glucometer with you to measure your blood glucose as needed.
  • Bring glucose tabs or gel in a pocket as emergency quick carb.
  • Use caution with high blood sugar. If your blood sugar is 300 or higher, or 250 with ketones, exercise is not advisable and it is recommended to seek medical care. Stay hydrated with water. Consider testing blood sugar after exercise, especially if it was a long and/or intense session.
  • Check feet every day and wear comfortable shoes.
  • Consider wearing a medical ID and keeping a phone in your pocket.
  • Always carry water to stay adequately hydrated.

A simple rule of thumb: if you don’t feel well, don’t exercise. Once you feel better and you have talked to your doctor about exercise, incorporating more activity into your life can have numerous benefits- so get moving and enjoy!

 

SOURCES:

  1. Bartlett R, Gratton C, Rolf CG eds. Encyclopedia of International Sports Studies. New York, NY: Routledge; 2010:1367-1368.
  2. Coleman E. Diet, Exercise & Fitness. 8th Edition. Falls Church, VA: Nutrition Dimensions; 2011.

 

Nicole Anziani, RD, CDE

Fit4D Coach