Balancing diabetes and the holidays

People with diabetes can sometimes have a difficult time managing their condition with temptations of festive occasions. With proper planning and helpful tips, those facing the struggle can be better equipped to keep their body and physicians happy. Affecting one in 10 adults in the United States, diabetes mellitus is a disease that causes high blood sugars in the body, affecting many aspects of your health. If not managed properly, diabetes can be debilitating or even lead to death. “The holiday season poses many potential challenges for those living with diabetes,” said Rosa Best, registered nurse and chief nursing officer at Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital (RPMH). “Daily routines are often altered due to errands and traveling logistics. Patients sometimes forget about their medications and diets that help them manage their condition.” According to Best, you should always check your supply of insulin and other medications during the winter months to ensure you have an appropriate supply. Weather conditions can often delay your ability to obtain or receive stock. When traveling, making sure you have an adequate supply for your trip is essential. This includes all related medication (including insulin if needed) and appropriate blood sugar testing devices. If you are flying, you are encouraged to pack these items with your carry-on luggage in case of flight delays or if your baggage is lost en route. Travelers who require insulin injections are encouraged to check with their airline regarding security and baggage rules. “The key is not to miss your meals during the holidays, especially for those who are on insulin and are traveling,” Best warned. “Monitoring your consumption and making sure you have appropriate snacks will help keep you healthy.” Nutrition and dieting are other weak spots for many during the holiday season. Large meals and an abundant array of sweet treats and drinks often tempt us to over indulge, forgetting about health ramifications while with family and friends. “It’s not at all difficult to manage your diabetes condition while being presented with a variety of rich foods,” said Best. “Although challenging, it just takes a little bit of planning to help keep you in check.” The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that you plan meals ahead of time, deciding how much to eat and how to handle social pressures. The ADA says that having a buddy nearby to help monitor your actions can make a huge difference. Physical activity is important as well. Having loved one join you in a walk frequently can be key to avoiding sweet treats, especially when desserts are being passed on the dining table. For those helping to create holiday meals, alternative recipes can be beneficial for both you and your guests. According to the ADA, revising dessert recipes can be done by replacing half the amount of sugar with a sugar substitute and increasing the amount of sweet-tasting spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. Replacing sugar with products like sugar substitute can also make a difference. If you would like more information about managing diabetes, or if you think you might be at risk, please contact the RPMH Diabetic Outreach Program at 325-235-1701.