Coping With Diabetes This Holiday Season

By: Jolie Wiener

December 17, 2020

The holidays are right around the corner, it’s tempting for anyone to overindulge in festive foods. Especially due to COVID-19, it’s incredibly important for those with diabetes to stay on top of their blood sugar levels and make smart choices.

Most may not realize it, but nothing might be more valuable than having enough time-in-range during the holiday season. Time-in-range is the amount of time each day that blood sugar or glucose levels are within the recommended range of 70-180 mg/DL. The target range, of course, varies from person to person and it's best to consult with your healthcare provider about what your specific target is.

Ideally, any diabetic should be in the ideal range of at least 70% of the time or about 17 hours of a 24 hour day to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Staying in the range is important because it helps maintain daily mood, energy levels, and overall wellness.

So what exactly impacts your time-in-range? The most important factors are food choices, when they are eaten, exercise, stress levels, sleep and hydration. The holidays can be especially tempting due to the number of carbs in various foods, but it’s important to be aware of your goal time-in-range and adapt your holiday meal accordingly to stay on target. 

Most might rely on Hemoglobin A1C instead of time-in-range. While checking your A1C is a very helpful measurement, it has its limitations. It only represents the average glucose levels from the last 2-3 months and does not capture rapid blood sugar spikes that can occur, especially over the holidays. 

While time-in-range can best be monitored using a continuous glucose meter, it’s important to be aware of the most important factors and strategies to help keep you healthy during the holiday season. 


Make a Commitment to Yourself This Year


What’s more important than your health? Hopefully, you’ve been working all year on meeting healthy goals and managing daily blood sugar levels. Why reverse all of your progress for a couple of meals? For some, getting off track can lead to a spiral, and it’s simply not worth it to risk your health. Make a promise to yourself that you can be strong, and try to have a plan in place with strategies to deal with family pressure and temptations.

Get Moving! 


As we mentioned previously, exercise is a powerful way to help manage blood sugar levels. Hopefully, this is already part of a regular daily routine. Make exercise a priority especially before and after a holiday meal. This can help you stay on track and support a healthy lifestyle.

Don’t Focus On The Food


Sure, holiday foods can be delicious, but there are a number of other special things to enjoy at this time of year. Try to keep your mind off of the food and worrying about the meal, and instead think of all the other joyful activities you can do with friends and family. This will help you keep your time-in-range and also be fun!


For example:

  • Sing favorite holiday songs
  • Create handmade holiday cards to send to loved ones by mail
  • Try snowshoeing or ice-skating while social distancing
  • Do a special winter craft like knitting a scarf
  • Decorate your home in a unique way
  • Watch favorite holiday movies
  • Create a family photo album with favorite holiday memories

Besides doing other activities, make sure in advance whatever event you are attending has diabetic-friendly foods. Discover some of our top holiday recipes like Pumpkin Soup.

Additionally, as we mentioned for Thanksgiving, eating breakfast, staying hydrated, meditation, and staying active are all great ways to keep you on track.

These are just a few of our top suggestions to help you stay happy and healthy this holiday season. As we enter 2021, remember your goals, and having good health is the best gift you can give yourself at any time of year! 

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