Managing diabetes through the Christmas season
Christmas trees and decorations are up, presents are wrapped and secret Santas are having their laugh. But what if you’re not feeling like you can participate in the festivities or you feel Christmas may be just another ordinary day? Maybe you’re worried you won’t be able to manage your diabetes over the holidays? UQ Healthy Living provides you with five tips to get through the silly season and keep on top of your diabetes.
- Stay Connected
When we think of Christmas, we think of spending time with family and friends. But some of us are on our own, feel isolated or affected by the restrictions of COVID. However, there are ways to remain CONNECTED during the holiday season and maintain our mental wellbeing. Technology can be your ally, set up a video call and share a meal with family and friends wherever they may be. If you have nowhere to go, why not have a look what is happening in your local area? Is your community hall hosting a Christmas lunch event? You may find that a tavern or a surf club may also host a Christmas lunch. Have you thought about volunteering over the Christmas period? Giving back to the community can often bring you joy as you brighten someone’s day – who may also be in need of a little connection and a smile.
- Be Kind to Yourself
Managing diabetes over the Christmas period can be particularly challenging, but we don’t want this to take away from your enjoyment of the day. There can be a lot of pressure to manage our diabetes “perfectly” and sometimes it can feel as though we’ve “failed” if this is not the case. It is easy for us to fall into these all-or-nothing thinking patterns such as “I can’t have any Christmas pudding, or “I might as well eat the whole thing because I’ve already failed”. But perfect is impossible! If you notice yourself having these thoughts you might like to take a brief moment to acknowledge how you’re feeling (“I’m feeling stressed/overwhelmed/guilty), acknowledge you’re not alone in feeling this way (or we wouldn’t be writing this blog!), and to show kindness to yourself perhaps by considering what you would say to a dear friend or family member feeling the same way. If you do experience unexpected fluctuations in your blood sugar levels, try to look at these from a curious, non-judgmental mindset to see what you can learn for next time and to intervene if needed, before turning your attention back to enjoying the festivities.
- Keep Moving
Thinking about doing some exercise after a festive feast tends to feel like a chore and the temptation to take a nap and enter a post food coma is quite real. We continue to encourage you to get up and move over the Christmas period. Going for an easy 10min walk or gentle exercise at home after a meal will help stabilise or lower blood sugar levels and decrease the sugar peak, compared to sitting down and resting after a meal. Encourage a family member or a friend to join you to make it enjoyable and social activity or take that time for yourself for some calming, self-care. Could the post lunch stroll even form part of a new tradition for you and your loved ones?
- Mix up your movement
Christmas is that special time of year that we get together and celebrate food, family and friends. Often this means we change our healthy routines and habits. Be mindful of those self-management strategies that work for your body and keep you functioning well (i.e. regular movement, stretching, avoiding sitting for long periods of time). Enjoy the day and don’t forget to move, whether it’s pulling that extra Christmas cracker, lifting the grandchildren, dancing to come carols, or rolling the arm over in a game of backyard cricket.
- Remember portion size and still enjoy Christmas treats
Food is what brings us all together and what a wonderful opportunity Christmas offers us to come together with our loved ones to celebrate. This year, try to consciously enjoy the delicious food prepared with such care and placed in front of us. Take your time to have a look around and see what is being offered, and serve up small portions of the different foods you like to eat. Remember it is just one day, there should not be any guilt or fad diets to counteract ONE day’s worth of intake. Savour each mouthful and don’t forget to stay well hydrated.
Exercise and Men’s Health – eBook by Exercise and Sport Science Australia (2021)