11 Tips for Eating Right With Diabetes During the Holidays
Managing your diabetes at home on a day-to-day basis can be challenging. When you throw in a holiday, trip or special event, it can seem impossible. Having diabetes shouldn’t stop you from having a good time but you must be wise.
Follow these tips and you can enjoy the experience without getting too far off track.
1.Eating right means everything in moderation
One of the most important phrases to remember is “everything in moderation.” When you are traveling, at a party, or enjoying a holiday meal, temptations will be all around. You have to decide what you can afford to eat and where you must be careful.
When faced with lots of options, choose one item you have to have and put just a small amount of it on your plate. Slow down and savor each bite. It takes time for your brain to realize you’re full. Enjoy what you’re eating without guilt, and then forget about the rest. Sit as far away from the buffet table as you can.
When you’re in a different location and want to taste some new foods, be sure that you are careful. Overindulging with large portions too often can wreak havoc on anyone’s waistline. For those with diabetes, overindulging can do even greater damage.
2. Eating right means fill up on healthy foods first
Always choose healthy foods to fill up on. Be sure to include some protein, high fiber foods and vegetables. This will help keep you feeling satisfied with fewer carbohydrates. It will also help keep your blood glucose stable.
Never skip meals to “save up” for a feast. It will only make things worse in the long run.
3. Eating right means learn about the local cuisine when visiting foreign destinations
Before traveling to a foreign destination, find out as much as you can about the local foods. Learn the local word for carbohydrate and find out if carbs are generally served as a side dish or the entree.
Investigate local foods before your trip on sites like Nutrition Data and Calorie King. You can also ask a dietician for help before you travel.
Once you’re there, don’t be afraid to ask questions about the food. When in doubt, stick to high-protein foods like meat, poultry or fish. Test your blood sugar before and after meals to see how new foods are affecting it. Make sure that you keep your glucose numbers in check to avoid issues.
4. Eating right means telling others that you have diabetes
While it may feel a bit uncomfortable, be sure to tell others that you have diabetes. This way, others can support you.
When you’re traveling, get a note from your doctor that states your condition. It may be necessary to have your letter translated. Make several copies and give them to those who are traveling with you as well. Staying at a B&B? Your host may be able to accommodate your particular diet needs at breakfast as well.
When flying, TSA (Transportation Security Administration) requires that all diabetes medicines and supplies be in their original pharmacy packages with prescription labels. The note from your physician, listing all necessary medications and supplies, can also help when going through airport security.
5. Eating right means staying active
Being active is a great way to reduce the inevitable stress that comes along with it. Invite friends and family to exercise with you. Take a walk together after a big holiday dinner or go for a hike in that fabulous travel destination.
Keep in mind that if you’re going on an active adventure, you will need to watch your blood sugar. If you develop low blood sugar you must be able to treat it quickly. Always drink plenty of water.
6. Eating right means getting plenty of sleep
During the holidays and while traveling, you’re less likely to get a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep can make it harder to control your blood sugar and can lead to eating the wrong foods. This means you’re more likely to overindulge, particularly on high-fat, high-sugar foods.
When tired, it is likely that you will eat more. This is because you are looking for energy. That often means consuming unhealthy foods that can spike blood sugar levels. Eating well all through the day helps to keep your blood sugar under control. It also helps you sleep better at night and have more energy.
7. Eating right means drinking plenty of water
As mentioned, staying hydrated is a must. With diabetes, you’re more sensitive to dehydration. Always keep a bottle of water with you while you’re traveling and sip throughout the day. This is especially important in a hot climate. If you don’t drink enough in this type of environment, your insulin will not work right. Buy bottled water to avoid potential illness or other health issues in a foreign country.
8. Eating right means sticking to your schedule
Holidays, events and travel can all throw those with diabetes off schedule. Traveling out of your time zone, or delayed flights can put extra stress on your body.
As much as you can, try to plan ahead and stick to your routine. Pack some snacks for the plane. Invest in an insulated bag for cold items. If you’ll be flying when it’s your regular sleep time, bring an eye mask and earplugs to help you get some rest.
9. Eating right means consider your feet
Taking care of your feet is important, especially when you’re traveling abroad. Wear the right kind of shoes for your activity. If you have decreased feeling in your feet, never walk barefoot on hot sand, or other areas where there could be sharp objects like broken glass. Keep your feet protected from the sun as well by applying sunblock.
10. Eating right mean limiting alcohol
Skip the alcohol, or drink only in moderation, eating something beforehand to prevent low blood glucose levels later. If you do drink, eat a healthy snack before bed to help lower blood glucose levels.
Remember that whether you drink a beer or a glass of wine, alcohol adds a significant amount of calories to your diet. Avoid drinks that contain high-calorie mixers (and lots of sugar) like juice or margarita mix.
11. Eating right means setting things straight
As humans, we all make mistakes. If you eat more carbs or more food than you planned to, don’t consider yourself a failure.
Add some extra activity, keep monitoring your blood glucose levels, and then get back on track with healthier eating habits the next day.
Follow these 11 tips and you’ll be able to enjoy yourself, feel great, and manage your diabetes while traveling or during the holidays.