Are you dreading the holiday season and feel there is no way you can control your diabetes AND enjoy yourself at the same time? This is a very common concern among my diabetic patients around this time of year. But you CAN be successful and indulge yourself with a few changes to your holiday approach. Here’s a few suggestions that patients have used to ensure their success.

Commit to a food plan. This will help you not to be overwhelmed and take too much food at the table. Its best to make this plan when you are not hungry, so your judgement isn’t distorted. Remember to include alcohol consumption into this food plan, that has calories, and often sugar, as well!

Avoid going hungry for too long! Usually, we wait to eat during the holidays until the “big meal” where everyone is gathered together. This can create a situation, however, that encourages a lot of snacking and significant overeating. Remember to eat a few small meals that day before dinner so you are less tempted by all the food on the table. This will also help you stick to the Food Plan.

Slow your Roll! Slow down your eating speed during the holidays. This allows you to savor the flavors of smaller portions and to not feel pressured to get a second helping when everyone else is on their second (or third) helping of food.

Avoid starchy vegetables. This is just a matter of choosing vegetables other than the mashed potatoes at the table. It is a fairly simple change that will make a big impact on your blood sugar.

Go easy on the desserts. This is usually the hardest part for someone who is having to watch their sugar intake, because who doesn’t love pie?! If you feel you won’t be able to say no to the temptation of desserts during the holidays, try setting yourself up for success by bringing a dessert that is sugar-free. There are many really tasty options for substituting sugar in desserts, and these options are certainly worth looking up online!

If the holiday eating is a day-long event in your family, it’s important to know if you have a “see-food habit”… where if you SEE food, you EAT food. Often, when appetizers or snacks are out we are especially tempted to keep snacking between meals, which can significantly increase your blood sugars. If you are not able to keep the food out of sight between meals (because you are a guest), discuss with your host ahead of time what appetizers/snacks they are planning to have, and offer to bring a few options of your own. Again, there are great options online for diabetes-friendly appetizers.

Test your blood sugars periodically. This will keep you aware of where you are at through the holiday weeks and help you know what works for you

Set yourself up for success! Even if you are not in charge of cooking and are at the mercy of another host for food options, find out what the food menu is going to be in advance and offer to bring a version of some of your favorites that are diabetes-friendly. And remember to prevent yourself from getting too hungry and over-eating at mealtime. Good choices and good timing are two things that will set you up for success!