Top 10 Tips for the Holidays
Additional activities and schedule changes associated with the holidays can often bring challenges when managing diabetes. The holidays are usually a special time for families and children but often celebrations center around food and activities that can bring unexpected stresses, but with some forward planning and creative ideas, can be thoroughly enjoyed.
1. Set realistic expectations for the holidays – expect that with the excitement of the holidays, blood glucose fluctuations, high or low, are most likely going to occur at some point during the holiday season. Keep with the holiday spirit - Put your energy into the solution, rather than the problem, if undesired blood glucose levels occur.
2. Maintaining your routine of blood sugar checks and insulin administration will help monitor and reduce the impact of the holiday season
3. If you have family visiting for the holidays, this can pose challenges and stresses on the child’s schedule, especially if their favorite bed and pillow has been given up, even for their favorite grandparent. We all know about the impact of stress on diabetes.
4. Children with diabetes can have treats – the key is moderation with candy and foods high in carbohydrates and including them within the established meal plan. Think of some creative ways to deal with extra treats – such as trading them or spacing them out over the following months.
5. Try to limit food extravaganzas to the holiday itself rather than to the entire holiday season.
6. Look for opportunities to revise some of the traditional recipes such as reducing the sugar or fat content, including sugar substitutes, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and other sweet-tasting spices and flavorings. Not only is this better for the child with diabetes but for the entire family!
7. Look for non-food treats and activities to celebrate the holiday season – creating fun artwork, holiday stickers and family events such as a karaoke competition of holiday songs, outings and experiences.
8. Balance an increase in food intake with fun activities that get children moving – you want to try to limit time in front of the television or on the computer – but make it a family affair, not just something the child with diabetes needs to do.
9. If you are travelling, remember extra supplies, medical alert identification, hypoglycemia kit, time changes and if going to a foreign country, research food choices and key phrases in the local language regarding emergency care.
10. Enjoy the holidays – the key focus should be on spending quality time together with family and friends and collecting lots of fabulous memories that you can talk about for years to come.
Kellie Rodriguez, MSN, CDE, CPT
Director of Patient Education
Diabetes Research Institute