The holidays are a joyous time of friends, family, festivities, and food – a lot of food. Those seasonal spreads of delicious dishes and decadent desserts can make it hard to manage your diabetes, let alone stick to your meal plan. Before you cash in your holiday cheer, try incorporating these nine tips to enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season.

Plan Before You Plate

Having diabetes doesn’t mean you have to forgo the holiday feast. You can still enjoy your favorite holiday foods as long as you enter the season armed with a sensible plan:

  • Don’t skip meals. It can be tempting to fast before a holiday feast in order to save room for your favorites, but doing so can make your diabetes harder to control. Fasting causes low blood sugar and eating when you’re over-hungry leads to poor choices and dangerous sugar spikes. If your holiday feast is later in the day, plan to eat breakfast or a light snack at your regular mealtime to keep your blood sugar steady.
  • Bring something to share. If you’re invited to a holiday gathering, offer to bring your own delicious and diabetes-friendly dish. This will guarantee you have at least one healthy item to enjoy – and will probably help the host, too!
  • Find your favorites. The holidays are one time it’s good to be a picky eater. Instead of piling your plate with carb-rich choices you can get anytime of year (we’re looking at you, mashed potatoes), choose those special seasonal dishes and skip the rest.
  • Choose veggies first. Before you concentrate on carbs, take the edge off your appetite with a fresh mix of veggies from the appetizer table. This will help you take smaller portions and make better choices at mealtime.
  • Don’t bask near the buffet. After fixing your plate, find a comfortable spot away from the table to avoid mindless grazing.

Make Time to Move

Exercise is often the first thing to go when the holidays turn hectic, but physical activity can lower blood sugar levels, counteract those extra calories, and improve your overall health. This holiday season, make time to move every day and add in some extra steps after that holiday feast by taking a walk with your friends and family!

Drink More Water

Hydration is especially important during the holidays. Mild dehydration is easily mistaken for hunger pangs, and diabetics are particularly prone to dehydration thanks to high Blood Glucose levels. Aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water each day and have an extra glass before eating.

Stay on Top of Your Blood Sugar

All that extra holiday eating means you’ll need to closely manage your condition. Check your blood sugar more often and take note of how your body reacts to specific foods and behaviors. Be sure to keep plenty of testing supplies on hand through the holiday season!