Contributor: Kathy Warwick, RD, LD, CDE
Seems like the hustle and bustle starts earlier every year and the pressure to have the perfect gift, meal, decorations, etc. has hit new levels. As if daily life wasn’t busy and complicated enough, adding these additional layers of tasks can really throw diabetes management off track. Here a few ideas for thriving through the holidays.
- Simplify. When hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast states in 2005, my family started a new tradition. The reality of so many unmet needs for our neighbors who lost everything was sobering. That year, we pooled our gift budgets and loaded up a trailer with groceries and toys for those living in FEMA trailers. Our new family gift-giving tradition was begun. Now each of the adults chooses a list of favorite charities, and family members donate money to those causes instead of buying gifts. Christmas presents are to the children, and gatherings are more about the fellowship. It has proven to be a great way to de-commercialize the season and reduce stress while helping others. Consider proposing a new family gifting option.
- Self-care first. Inevitably, I let my daily exercise and adequate sleep get crowded out by the multiple obligations and extra items on the schedule. Before long, my worn out, overstressed mind and body remind me that these things are essential when I catch an awful cold or my neck and shoulders knot up in protest. Diabetes is a 24-7 demanding job of its own, and taking care of yourself is so essential if you want to thrive through the holidays and enjoy the season. Take 10 minutes to close your eyes in a quiet place and just breathe in and out several times a day. Relax in a hot bath, stretch, sing, or dance and don’t feel guilty about stealing time for yourself. Schedule a manicure or a massage. The best way to stay healthy through this busy season is to put your daily exercise, your goal for bedtime, and your healthy food choices on the top of the to-do list.
- Food, Food, and More Food. At work, at church, at parties, at your child’s school, at family gatherings, at community events… You name it, there will be lots of tempting treats and sweets. While there is room for these in everyone’s eating plan, and we all want to fully participate in traditions and celebrations, overdoing the carbs will challenge the most experienced diabetes managers. Be prepared. Rather than starving all day when you are anticipating an evening party event, eat sensibly and then get one small plate of your favorites at the party. Showing up hungry is never the best strategy. Take your plate and move away from the food table to mingle with friends. At work, be sure to have your healthy go-to snacks handy, so you can avoid that employee break room full of cookies and fudge. At family dinners, choose that special carb-laden dish that you will only get to eat once a year or take one small spoon of your three favorites. No need to feel deprived, but setting some guidelines for yourself before you have to face the buffet is really helpful. After the feast, grab your favorite cousin and take a brisk walk.
The holidays can be a joyful, relaxing, healthy season when you take time to pamper yourself and plan for those challenges.
Kathy Warwick is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with 36 years of experience in several areas of dietetics practice. She is the owner of Professional Nutrition Consultants, LLC in Madison, Mississippi, providing inpatient and outpatient diabetes education, long term care consultation, hospice consultation, wellness program services, media communications, and medical-legal consultation. Kathy is a medical reviewer for Healthline.com.
Kathy speaks regularly to community and professional groups and has presented multiple national webinars. She serves as the Print Communications Chair for the Diabetes Care and Education Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is a Past-President of the Mississippi Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In her spare time, Kathy enjoys her grandbabies, gardening, caring for her chickens, yoga, and a weekly art class.