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The holidays our typically a time to over-indulge, to splurge and to binge. But if you’re living with diabetes, those over-indulgences can harm your health. Here are some questions I’m often asked around the holidays.

What’s your best advice during the holidays?

’Tis the season of temptation, with candy and sweets all about from now through the winter holidays. Decrease your stress and anxiety by simplifying your holiday duties and tasks and enjoy your time with family and friends.

Since most people abandon regular routines and tend to overindulge during the holidays, how can people with Type 2 diabetes have fun, but keep their blood glucose levels in check?

Plan ahead, try to eat meals around your usual times and make sure not to skip meals. If you’re not able to eat at your normal time, then have a small snack and eat smaller portions during the feast. Make a platter of raw vegetables and your favorite low-cal dip to nibble on. Stick to calorie-free drinks like water, tea, seltzer and diet soda instead of punch, mixed drinks, regular sodas or beer. Overall, try to keep your total carbohydrate intake about the same as you would on a regular day. Try to increase physical activity, by taking a walk or playing active games.

Part of the holidays’ appeal is exchanging cookies and other favorite treats, elaborate family meals, company parties and celebrations with friends. How can you enjoy those celebrations and once-a-year indulgences without feeling left out?

Be prepared to make exchanges in your carbohydrate choices throughout the day if you want a cookie, piece of cake or pie or some other delicious dessert. Limit your helping of meal time carbs, such as potatoes, dinner rolls, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and then have a small portion of your favorite holiday treats. Take time to eat slowly and savor the tastes and textures of your foods.

If you’re traveling and worry that weather might cause delays, what are some things you should pack?

If possible have some form of ID, identification bracelet, necklace or information card in your wallet, purse or backpack. You can also lock your cellphone screen with a medic alert that says “I have diabetes.” Pack a carry-on or backpack with your diabetes supplies so it is easily accessible. Have a printed copy of all your prescriptions. Make sure to have your glucose meter, blood test strips, alcohol pads, lancets, lancet pens, all prescription and over-the-counter medications, glucose tablets or gel and some hard candies. If taking insulin, pack insulin pens, pen needles or vials, syringes. Carry some ketone test strips to check ketones in urine. Always pack more, at least a week or two extra. Store medications out of direct heat or sunlight. Bring along a waterproof insulated bag with cold packs for storing your insulin in extreme heat.

What advice do you have for people who feel like they are missing some of what makes the holidays special?

Make a promise to yourself to put your health at the top of your holiday list. You deserve it. You have worked so hard to manage your diabetes throughout the year. Think small portions and it is possible to still enjoy the holidays without compromising your health. Do only as much as you feel you are able to do, and then take a moment for yourself to rejuvenate when you need it.

Cheri Ridenour, RN, a Diabetes and Wellness Nurse at RiverStone Health Clinic, may be reached at 247-3255 or cheri.rid@riverstonehealth.org.

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