7 Smart Ways to Enjoy the Holidays When You Have Diabetes

Use these tips to eat well and feel your best

Family lunch party

With food and drink temptations seemingly everywhere, sticking to a healthy diabetes plan can be a challenge. “For a person with diabetes, there’s so much that’s hard to predict around the holidays,” says Joanne Rinker, a spokesperson for the American Association of Diabetes Educators. “There may be treats around the break room at work for weeks, and parties and dinners may not offer good choices for someone with diabetes.” But that’s no reason to give up managing your disease. Rinker shares seven simple tips to make smart choices and still have plenty of holiday fun.

Bring good food to share. To ensure that you’ll have something healthy to eat at holiday parties or at the office, bring a salad or raw veggies with hummus. Invite others to share.

Mentally section your plate—then make healthy choices accordingly. A good rule of thumb: Fill half your plate with good-for-you vegetables, a quarter with starch, and another quarter with protein. Eat slowly.

Stick to your routine. Don’t starve yourself during the day to save up calories for parties at night. Continue to eat three healthful meals a day. Then you’ll feel fuller when you hit the holiday party circuit. During each meal, eat a consistent number of carbohydrates. This strategy can help keep your blood sugar stable and help to avoid spikes and drops.

Be quizzical. When dining out, ask lots of questions to make sure you’re getting a meal that you know will be a healthy balance of carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats. Ask if the kitchen uses MSG (and if they can avoid it), if they can dial back the amount of salt used, and if they’d be willing to skip the butter or reduce the oil.

Keep healthy snacks handy. Cut up some veggies and place them in a small plastic bag to take to work. Keep fruit handy as a quick snack.

Leave sweets at parties. Don’t bring home leftover desserts or other treats that may be tempting. It’s much easier to make healthy choices when you’re not tempted by excess.

Drink light. Limit yourself to only one or two alcoholic drinks. Choose light beer or red wine while avoiding sugary, high-calorie cocktails, such as margaritas and White Russians. When having a mixed drink, opt for a mixer that is low in calories, such as club soda or fruit-flavored sparkling water.