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How to Enjoy Special Occasions with Diabetes or Pre-Diabetes

A holiday is coming up. You are invited to a birthday party or wedding. It's your anniversary. Or maybe you are heading out to a special girls/guy weekend for some R&R with friends. With diabetes or other blood sugar health issues, having fun can sometimes be stressful. My clients want to know "How can I stay healthy during special occasions when faced with parties, lots of food, and more stress than usual?” Here are my top tips for getting through holidays with your blood sugars intact.

  • Be prepared: Before going to parties or any special occasion make sure to eat something ahead of time so that you don’t arrive starving and dive right into the appetizer tray. If you are pressed for time, try some hummus with raw vegetables. A bowl of soup is another healthful option.

  • Bring something: If you are invited to someone’s home for dinner or a party, everyone appreciates an offer of a tasty addition to their party table. I always bring one thing that I know I will be able to eat and that everyone else will really enjoy. It depends on the event. For dinners, I usually bring a vegetable dish like delicious Brussels sprouts with caramelized onions -- or for a buffet I love to bring a beautiful array of grilled or roasted vegetables.

  • Take care of your sweet tooth: When cake, cookies, candies, pies and all manner of sweets are everywhere, it's not easy, but with some strategies in place you can get through it without feeling deprived. First and foremost, go back to tip #1, and make sure you have eaten well the day of an event. That way your blood sugars won’t be all over the place and you will be less likely to be craving sweets. The best way to avoid eating desserts and snacks that are loaded with sugar is to have a sweet indulgence of your own that you can enjoy. For me that is a few pieces of dark chocolate, which I always carry in my purse for just such occasions. My favorite is a low-glycemic, cold dark chocolate from a company called Lilly's. When faced with that tray of cookies at the office, or it is time for dessert at a party, I bring out my chocolate, have some tea or coffee and I am good to go. Maybe I will have a bite or two of whatever else is being offered, but with my own treat in hand, I don’t feel deprived, and I am much less likely to eat an amount that will wreak havoc on my blood sugars.

  • Ask for What You Need: If your special occasion is at a restaurant, the bread basket can be a major minefield that takes real resolve to avoid. If you are feeling tempted, when the waiter is getting drink orders, ask to have a salad or soup brought out right away so that you have something to eat while others are eating bread. Also, when you order your meal, even if it comes with a starch that you don’t want, you can ask to have extra vegetables in its place. Don’t feel embarrassed about asking questions or making requests. Today, so many people have special food requirements, and restaurants want to keep their customers happy.

  • Get enough rest and keep up your exercise: When you are tired, your body compensates and you begin to crave more carbohydrates, especially bread, cookies and sweets to keep your energy up. So make sure that you are treating your body well by giving it the rest it needs. Although we all feel time pressured during the holidays or before other special occasions, if possible, try not to give up your exercise routine. If you have to, pencil in exercise time on your calendar, like any other appointment. . You will have more energy for everything you have to do and avoid holiday/party remorse by staying on track

  • Enjoy Yourself!! The best advice I can give is to be gentle with yourself -- reach out for support when you need it, and enjoy everything your special events have to offer.

Live It Up—Don’t Let Diabetes Get You Down!


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