10 Tips for Managing Diabetes Over the Holidays

Nov 10, 2023
10 Tips for Managing Diabetes Over the Holidays
You’re not alone if you dread what the holidays might do to your diabetes management. However, it’s possible to have your celebration and stick with your diabetes care plan. Our team offers tips to help you succeed.

Dr. Sagi Jacob Cohen and Dr. Nathan Alyesh at Calabasas Medicine Group in Calabasas, California, specialize in helping people optimize their health year-round. Managing a chronic condition like diabetes can be especially difficult during the holidays when schedules, menus, and sleep patterns shift into celebration mode.  

Although maintaining healthy control of diabetes is essential throughout the season, so, too, is the enjoyment of gathering with friends and family. Read these tips from our team about managing both as you experience the upcoming holidays.  

1. Plan ahead

Before attending a holiday gathering, think about what foods will be available and decide in advance what and how much you'll eat. This can help you avoid spontaneous decisions that might not line up with your meal plan.

2. Keep moving

Now is not the time to skip your exercise routine. Physical activity helps counter the effects of a bit of holiday indulgence. Even a post-meal stroll changes how your body processes foods and beverages. Encourage a group walk to enjoy neighborhood decorations or other sights of the holiday season.

3. Check your blood sugar

Regular glucose checks are essential to diabetes management and are especially important during the holidays. Regular monitoring gives you a clearer idea of how holiday foods affect your levels, allowing you to make real-time adjustments.

If frequent finger-sticks are a problem, try one of the new systems that interacts with your phone.

4. Keep your mealtime routines

Skipping meals during the day might seem like an excellent way to save up for an evening event, but this can lead to unstable blood sugar levels. Instead, stick as closely as possible to your regular meal schedule and portion sizes during the holidays.


If you’re attending an evening feast, use that as your dinnertime. If it’s later than usual for you, enjoy a healthy snack at home and limit portion sizes during the evening meal out. When in doubt, ask your hosts about meal timing and plan accordingly.   

5. Limit alcohol

If you do drink, do so in moderation and always with food. Alcohol can lower blood sugar and interfere with diabetes medication. Be sure to calculate the carbs and calories in the drinks or mixers to ensure you’re sticking with your daily intake goals.

6. Choose your carbs

Focus on complex carbs like whole grains and avoid or limit simple carbs like those found in sweets, sodas, and many processed foods.

Choose your favorite carbs rather than indulging in them all. For instance, if you prefer stuffing to bread, pass on the roll and enjoy a reasonable portion of your favorite.   

When indulging in holiday treats, cut down on portion sizes, use smaller plates to trick your brain, and resist going back for seconds. Avoid grazing, because all of those tiny bites do add up.    

For pre-dinner appetizers, try fresh carrots, nuts, and other healthy foods that take longer to chew and take the edge off of your appetite while providing a satisfying crunch.  

7. Bring a dish to share

If you're going to a potluck or family gathering, offer to bring a holiday dish that fits your diabetes meal plan. This ensures you'll have at least one diabetes-friendly option.

Your friends and family may also be surprised by the many delicious options available on a menu plan that’s more about health than limitations.  

8. Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. This can help control blood sugar levels and make you feel full, reducing the temptation to overeat.

9. Sleep well

Lack of sleep can make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels. Adults require 7-9 hours of restful sleep per night, even during the busy holiday season.

10. De-stress

Nothing says stress like the holidays. Unfortunately, a stressful lifestyle can negatively impact diabetes control. De-stress with yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or simply taking time for yourself.

Negative self-talk can also ratchet up your stress levels. If you do overindulge, give yourself the gift of forgiveness and consider every meal a new opportunity to make healthier choices.

Schedule an evaluation at Calabasas Medicine Group today for help managing your diabetes before, during, and after the holidays. Call our office or request an appointment online.