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Navigating the Holidays with Diabetes: A Festive and Healthy Approach

Family Enjoying the Holidays

Written by Expert Pharmacist Contributor: Dr. Staci-Marie Norman, PharmD, DCES

Hello December! As we bid farewell to 2023 amidst the whirlwind of holiday festivities, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the challenges we’ve faced and look forward to a healthy, joyful season. This year kicked off with a hectic work schedule and an unwelcome lingering cold, not to mention the chaos of holiday decorating that has turned my house upside down. Stress levels are soaring, and for those managing diabetes, the added challenge of keeping blood sugar in check can seem daunting.

Let me say this upfront – IT IS OKAY! In the midst of the holiday chaos, it’s crucial to give ourselves a little grace while still holding onto our good habits. So, let’s explore how we can make this season merry and bright while sneaking in some healthy treats and activities.

Embracing Festive Feasts

The centerpiece of any holiday celebration is the feast – be it turkey, ham, duck, or roast beef. Christmas around my home revolves around special “treats” that are only made during this time of the year. From Chex Mix and “white trash” (Chex mix covered in white chocolate) for the neighbors to days-long cookie-making sessions, the culinary indulgence is real. But fear not, because I’ve developed some tricks to navigate this culinary maze.

My biggest trick? Bake those goodies, but don’t keep them all to yourself. Give them away, and whatever you keep, store it out of sight. For me, out of sight is out of mind. To combat

the endless appetizer buffet, offer to bring fresh veggies and fruit, accompanied by lighter dips using healthier ingredients like low or no-fat Greek yogurt. At the big dinner, employ the plate method – fill half your plate with veggies and split the other half between protein and starch. These simple tricks have made a significant difference for me and even helped my father maintain his A1C over the holidays for the past eight years.

Remember, it’s not about total deprivation. Enjoy those once-a-year treats in moderation, so you don’t feel like you’ve missed out, yet still, stay true to your quest for health.

Keeping Active Amidst the Chaos

Exercise tends to take a backseat during the holiday hustle. Between work, holiday preparations, baking, shopping, and wrapping, finding time for physical activity becomes a challenge. However, let me encourage you to stick with your routine. Physical activity not only helps control blood glucose but also contributes to better mental well-being.

Consider incorporating family-friendly activities into your holiday plans. Attend “winter walks” at the zoo, botanical gardens, or parks adorned with seasonal decorations. How about a post-holiday meal game of flag football or outdoor activities like sledding or skating if you’re in a snowy area? If the weather is too harsh, explore indoor options like using virtual reality goggles for family games or classic activities like Twister. Sneak in some activity for the whole family and perhaps start a new holiday tradition!

Health Check Before the Countdown

Amidst the holiday cheer, don’t forget your health essentials. Continue monitoring your blood glucose levels and taking medications as prescribed. As the year comes to a close, consider maximizing your insurance benefits by getting a 90-day supply of medications in December to reduce costs in January when deductibles reset. If you’re traveling, pack enough medication for your entire trip, with a buffer in case of unexpected delays. Remember, if you’re flying, keep your medication in your carry-on baggage.

Wishing you all a joyous and healthy holiday season!

Dr. Staci-Marie Norman, PharmD, DCES, received her bachelors from Purdue University (’94) and her Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Oklahoma (’96). In 2000 Dr. Norman added to her credentials by becoming a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. She is currently the Clinical Coordinator and staff pharmacist for Martin’s Pharmacy. Dr. Norman is a national faculty member for the American Pharmacist Association, teaching certificate programs in both diabetes and cardiovascular disease. She serves on the advisory board that oversees development and revision of these programs. Along with teaching and development responsibilities for APhA, Dr. Norman serves as a peer reviewer for research grants and publication submissions. Dr. Norman has also spoken for Abbott, Bayer, Lilly, Mannkind, and Lifescan.

Written by

Dr. Staci-Marie Norman, PharmD, DCES
Family Enjoying the Holidays
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