Healthy Holiday Tips

The holiday season can be an especially tough time to stay healthy and on top of your diabetes management. Holiday parties, cold weather, travel, and stress can compound the everyday challenges of diabetes. The key is to stay focused on the basics: eating healthy, protecting your immune system, and staying active. Try incorporating these simple tips into your holiday planning this year; a little extra effort can go a long way toward making this your healthiest holiday season yet.

Eat Healthy

  • Moderation is key. Denying yourself sweets during the holidays will only tempt you more. Instead, take one cookie or a small slice of pie to keep you satisfied.
  • Don’t graze at the buffet table. Take a small plate of food when you want to eat something and then walk away. Come back only if you’re still hungry.
  • Keep water or diet soda with you to keep you hydrated and full.
  • At parties, eat in phases. First fill your plate with fruits, veggies, and lean meats. Then go for the crackers and starches. Last, take your pick of one dessert (not one of each!).
  • If you overeat at one meal, get back on track at your next meal with healthier fare, like fruits, veggies and whole grains.
  • Remember that most holiday drinks, like beers, mixers, or eggnog, can have a lot of sugar, which will raise your blood sugar and expand the waistline. Balance things out by drinking water (add flavor packs for some kick if you don’t like plain water) or a diet soda.
  • Don’t make all your holiday gatherings about food. Take a look at your newspaper’s calendar to see what kind of fun, festive local events like caroling, concerts, or holiday plays are happening.

Protect Your Immune System

  • Most people don’t eat adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables, so include a daily multivitamin to give your body the nutrients it needs.
  • Dress warmly. Wearing layers of clothing as well as gloves, scarves, and earmuffs will protect you from the winter chills.
  • Antioxidants can help neutralize free radicals and protect cells. Foods rich in antioxidants and important nutrients include yogurt, broccoli, garlic, red bell peppers, and green tea.
  • Sleep! Getting the recommended seven to eight hours of shut-eye is critical in maintaining a healthy immune system.

Stay Active

  • In a yearlong study of 550 men and women, researchers from the University of South Carolina found that people who exercised moderately by walking briskly were 25 percent less likely to develop a cold than those who didn’t exercise.
  • Regular, moderate-intensity exercise helps strengthen your body and your immune system.
  • Exercise also boosts your mood! Take the edge off the stress of the holidays or dull weather with a brisk walk around the neighborhood.
  • Don’t overdo the exercise. It can actually weaken your immune system. The Cleveland Clinic recommends 20 to 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week.
  • Spend your lunch hour walking around the block. The weather is likely to be the warmest at this time of day.
  • Find a friend to exercise with, whether it’s walking around the neighborhood or heading to the gym.
  • Take an exercise class like dance, kickboxing, yoga, or spinning. It keeps things interesting so you don’t get bored!
  • Bring your workout clothes when you travel on vacation. Most hotels have gyms or a pool that you can use in the mornings before your day begins.