The holidays are just around the corner, and if you’re trying to manage diabetes and your A1C levels, it can be challenging to avoid sweets and treats in the hectic days ahead.
A1C is a test measuring a person’s average blood glucose, or blood sugar, level over the course of three months. The results come in percentages, and the higher the percentage, the higher your overall blood sugar levels have been.
“You can have a good fasting blood glucose number, but your A1C might be different,” explained Alicia Buterbaugh, RD, LD, CDE, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with Kettering Health Network. She teaches classes on how to prevent and manage diabetes, including the Duck Diabetes program that gives people practical tips for preventing diabetes.
“The holidays can present a particular challenge to diabetics,” Buterbaugh said. “You’re getting more sweets and eating more at work and at home during family gatherings, and it’s hard not to indulge.”
Trying to avoid those temptations can be overwhelming, so here are 10 tips to help you manage your diabetes and A1C levels through the holiday season.
- Try to continue eating healthy options, including fruit, vegetables, lean meats, whole grain breads and cereals.
- Be careful of how often you taste things while cooking, because it can add up. Chewing a piece of gum can help keep you from tasting too much.
- Make sure you eat at regular times. Try not to skip meals in anticipation of eating more at a holiday event, because if you attend when you’re hungrier, you’re likely to overeat. It’s better to eat smaller amounts over time.
- Be sure to include some physical activity and try not to just focus on food. Go for a family walk after a holiday dinner. Maybe even get the family together to do a Turkey Trot event to get some exercise. Make the holiday celebrations about active socializing.
- Don’t stand by the snack table. Steering clear can help minimize temptations.
- Be careful about what you drink–drinks affect blood sugar as much as food. Stick to calorie-free drinks, such as unsweetened tea or water with a lemon twist.
- When the holiday has a special, big meal, like Thanksgiving, think about choosing only one starch and one carbohydrate. Decide which is the most important to you–maybe it’s your mom’s homemade dinner rolls or your brother’s special mashed potatoes–but pick only one.
- If you’re hosting or bringing food to a gathering, contribute something healthy. Try something like fresh fruit, for example, with low-sugar whipped topping, or maybe a main dish that has been baked or grilled.
- Plan your food for busier days leading up to holidays. When you’re going to be out buying gifts or going to parties, you tend to eat more on the run. Take the time to prepare meals ahead of time, so you don’t need to rely on drive-thru and pizza during those hectic days.
- Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you do overdo it, and try to get back on track as best you can.
Finally, stress management is very important in managing your diabetes. Set some goals for yourself and plan ahead, so you’re doing small tasks every day. Try to avoid doing everything at the last minute and be sure to ask for help when you need it.
“Our Duck Diabetes classes can help people diagnosed with prediabetes learn about how to keep from going into Type 2 diabetes,” Buterbaugh said. “We talk about prevention, healthier eating and keep the blood sugar lower.”
Click here for more information and to register for a Duck Diabetes class.