Nov 21, 2023

How to celebrate the holidays when living with diabetes

Tips for people living with diabetes – and their loved ones

Friends at a table

Many holidays across cultures and continents include an element of feasting. People living with diabetes have to constantly monitor their blood sugar, which can be challenging during the holidays.

We consulted the experts at Medtronic Diabetes and The LOOP for some tips on how to celebrate safely during indulgent seasons.

Have a plan

Large meals usually contain somewhere between 60 and 90 carbs. One way to enjoy a taste of everything is to make a portion plan.

To do this, the Diabetes team recommends considering the plate method.

Here’s how it works. Using a 9-inch dinning plate, fill up one-fourth with carbohydrates, one-fourth protein, and a half plate of vegetables.

You can still enjoy dessert, just eat about 15 carbs fewer than the 60-90 in a full meal. A trick is to use the palm of your hand to guide the portion size.

“Holiday meals often come with a little indulgence,” said Kim Larson, Sr. Director, U.S. Marketing & Clinical Center of Excellence. “But perhaps taking steps to plan can help reduce unexpected hypo- or hyperglycemic events.”

Alcohol is another holiday-favorite that can have an effect on blood sugars. But just like with food, all you need is a plan.

It is best to avoid high-sugar drinks, such as cocktails made with fruit juices or simple syrups. 

If you’re planning on imbibing, be aware that drinking alcoholic beverages can make people with diabetes less aware of their blood sugar level and hypoglycemic events.  

Sharing the burden

With roughly one in 10 adults living with diabetes, be prepared to be a good host for family and friends living with this disease.

Many have described living with diabetes as a balancing act, but this is a burden we can help our loved ones share.

Learn how to prepare diabetes-friendly meals. And if a guest brings their own diabetes-friendly dish and is comfortable talking about living with diabetes, ask for their recipe and learn how what they made better meets their dietary needs.

If you know you’re celebrating the holidays with loved ones living with diabetes, reach out and ask if they have any favorite recipes or other ways you can be inclusive.

This article is not healthcare advice. Everyone’s diabetes journey is unique. If you have questions or concerns about living with diabetes, please discuss them with your doctor. For more information on living with diabetes, visit the Medtronic Diabetes blog, The LOOP.