For many, holidays are a time of joy and celebration, but for diabetics, they could also be filled with stress and diabetes-related problems.
A 2014 study published in Diabetes Care revealed that in the month after Christmas, diabetics’ HbA1c, average blood glucose level, cholesterol level, and weight increases. Part of this is due to the lifestyle changes people undergo during the holiday season—eating more, drinking more, and making less healthy choices.
What can diabetics do to make sure their diabetes stays under control during this winter season? If you or a loved one suffers from diabetes, here are some tips to help make the holidays more manageable.
Practice good sleep hygiene
According to a study in the journal Sleep Medicine Clinics, just two days of sleep restriction leads to higher glucose and lower insulin levels, along with 30 percent more cravings for calorie- and carbohydrate-dense food. To help keep diabetes under control, get at least seven hours of sleep a night.
The release of stress-related hormones like cortisol can cause blood glucose to become unstable. Exercise can reduce the amount of cortisol circulating in the bloodstream and help to keep blood sugar, weight, and stress levels under control. Even stopping what you’re doing for just one minute to do some slow, deep breathing can be a great stress reliever.
Check blood sugar levels regularly
This is always important, but it’s especially so during the holidays, when healthy and low-carbohydrate foods may not be a priority. Regardless of the season, keep fasting and post-meal blood glucose levels within the normal range. If your sugars are high, consider revisiting your holiday eating habits to get back on track.
Consider bringing light, healthy dishes to potlucks—there are lots of delicious and diabetes-friendly recipes. Eat vegetable-based appetizers before you touch the meat and cheese.
Be wise about your alcohol consumption
Moderate alcohol intake can lower blood sugar levels, so don’t drink on an empty stomach. Be aware that the number of calories and amount of sugar can vary a lot between drinks, so get the nutrition information for your favorite drinks. If alcohol isn’t an option for you, choose seltzer water or club soda with a twist of lemon or lime.
Plan a treat
To keep blood glucose from rising to unhealthy levels, include sweets and treats as part of your daily carbohydrate budget rather than as an addition to it. Before the holiday season is in full swing, talk to your doctor and make a plan that may include additional insulin to compensate for extra food intake.
PharmaCyte is developing a unique diabetes therapy using our Cell-in-a-Box® encapsulation technology. We have established an International Diabetes Consortium that consists of world-renowned physicians and scientists, all of whom share the goal of developing a treatment for insulin-dependent diabetes. We are working hard to ensure that you will someday be able to enjoy the holidays without the added worry of managing your diabetes as well.
And finally, remember that although this season comes with a lot of stress and changes in your routine, the joy of the holidays far outweighs the problems that they bring. Happy holidays, from PharmaCyte to you.