How to maintain Your Health During the Holidays

The holiday season for many is a special time for family gatherings, gift-shopping and spiritual renewal. For people with diabetes, the joy of the holiday season may also have its challenges, including difficult-to-manage blood glucose levelsextra pounds and fatigue and stress associated with trying to engineer the picture-perfect celebration.

When you’re managing diabetes, a condition affecting over 30 million Americans, maintaining good health and keeping stress at bay are important. The easiest way to do this is to plan ahead. Here are some tips to help you maneuver the holiday maze while maintaining a healthy, diabetes-friendly lifestyle.

Eat, drink and be wary

Food is one of the greatest pleasures in life and often plays a major role in most holiday celebrations. However, contrary to the popular belief that a person gains 5–10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, research shows that the average person gains only about one pound each holiday season.

Although it may not be the best time to attempt a serious weight-loss program, it is realistic to set a goal of maintaining your weight and blood glucose control. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Cut the fat and sugar. Make your holiday recipes healthier by reducing their fat and sugar content.

Bring a healthy dish to holiday get-togethers. That way, you can ensure there will be something tasty and nutritious for you to enjoy. Many of your fellow guests will thank you.

Focus on activities that don’t involve food. Attend holiday musicals or plays, plan caroling parties, get friends or family together to wrap gifts, decorate or shop.

Avoid holiday grazing. Calories consumed tasting food while you’re cooking, clearing the table and socializing still count. A handful of nuts, a few cheese cubes and crackers and a bite or two of candy can quickly add up to almost 500 calories. In fact, you may end up eating as much carbohydrate and calories as you would if you sat down and ate an entire meal.

Keep carbohydrate consistent. If you’re going to have a holiday treat, substitute it for other carbohydrate in a meal; don’t just add it to your regular foods.

Skip the second helpings. Remember that limiting portions is the key to preventing weight gain and helps prevent blood glucose from going out of control.

Plan for parties. Having a small snack before a party will take the edge off your hunger and make you less likely to overfill your plate or return to the buffet table for seconds. Once you’ve eaten, focus on socializing with other party guests. Be sure to move your socializing away from the buffet table, where the sight or smell of food might tempt you to eat more.

Limit alcoholic beverages. Alcohol contains calories and sometimes carbohydrate, depending on your choice of drink. It also lowers your inhibitions, possibly making it harder for you to say no to food you wouldn’t otherwise eat. To sidestep such problems, ask for a no-calorie sparkling water with a lime twist.

The power of physical activity

Staying physically active during the holiday season can relieve your stress, improve your mood, lower your blood glucose levels and help with weight control. While your busy holiday schedule may not allow you to participate in as much daily physical activity as you might like, there are ways to stay active. These tips can help.

Encourage active holiday events. Plan parties around caroling, house decorating, holiday card making, snowman building or walks to see neighborhood decorations.

Your gift shopping trips can help burn calories and lower blood glucose. Park farther away from the mall entrance. Use the store’s stairs, not the escalator. Arrive at the mall a bit early and speed walk around the mall until the stores open.

Exercise. If it’s impossible for you to find a block of 30 minutes each day for physical activity, split your activity into two or three intervals of 10–15 minutes each.

Find something to laugh about. Laughing is a great tension reliever. It burns calories, reduces stress and usually means that you’re enjoying yourself. Research shows that laughter actually lowers blood glucose after meals. The study suggests that the positive effects of laughter may be due to increased calorie consumption or changes in the neuroendocrine system. Other studies note that laughter helps lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system and release endorphins.

Keeping spirits bright

Overscheduling, overdoing, overspending…holiday preparations often lead to stress rather than serenity and satisfaction. Stress can affect blood glucose levels in several ways. The stress of overdoing and overscheduling may lead you to neglect your usual self-care plan. The body also reacts to stress by producing hormones that cause the liver to release a surge of glucose, leading to high blood glucose levels. On the other hand, if you are too busy to eat properly, your blood glucose can drop too low.

Holiday stress survival kit

Avoiding fluctuations in blood glucose during the holidays can be challenging. Here are a few tips to help keep you on the right path.

Schedule time for self-care. Regular exercise and time for stress management are a must. Use a pedometer to track your steps, keep an honest food diary for a few days, be sure to continue to check and record your blood glucose results. Find the tools and techniques that work best for you and put them to work.

Taking a few deep, slow breaths goes a long way toward helping your body unwind and clearing your mind. Set a timer or post sticky notes in your kitchen or on your computer monitor as a reminder to breathe deeply at least three times a day. Transcend tension in traffic or on your way to a holiday party by taking a few deep breaths, making sure to exhale completely.

Knowing your spending limits will also relieve holiday stress. Gifts are meant to be symbols of affection; they don’t necessarily have to be expensive or the latest “must have” gadget. If the “perfect” gift is one you’re going to be paying for the rest of the year, it may be time to rethink your plan. Find a gift that is meaningful and personal but doesn’t break your budget.

Keep your expectations realistic. Don’t be disappointed if your celebration doesn’t reflect the fantasy found in holiday carols and television specials. Expect some irritations and imperfections, then relax and have a good time in spite of them.

What is your reason for the season?

Focus on your reason for the season. Is it the decorations, the spiritual aspects, the music or the time spent with family and friends? Perhaps this is the year you start a new tradition, possibly serving a holiday meal to those less fortunate or escaping to a warm vacation spot. With a bit of planning and attention, diabetes won’t stand in the way of your finding the true spirit of the holidays.

Source: Diabetes self management.

Eat right: Best food for diabetes control


TYPE 2 diabetes is a long-term metabolic disorder that is characterized by high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and relative lack of insulin, but it can be controlled with medication, and by following a healthy diet. Even though nothing is completely forbidden, a person with diabetes should avoid foods which could increase the risk of complications.
We are pleased to present to you 7 delicious foods that are compatible with diabetes, not only will these foods keep your blood sugar regulated also they will boost your energy and get your body the vitamins and antioxidants needed!

1. Whole grains


Whole grains are good sources of fiber, which can help slow the absorption of glucose into the blood. Plus, they’re packed with vitamins and minerals, making them a better choice than refined carbohydrates for people with type 2 diabetes. Try to include brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat flour, whole-grain cornmeal, quinoa, millet, whole oats, whole rye, or amaranth in your diet.

2. Salmon



Salmon is often very recommended because it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, the “healthy” fats that may boost your heart, skin, brain, and help reduce your risk of heart disease, which is important for people with type 2 diabetes, whose risk of cardiovascular disease is already elevated.

3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil



Extra virgin olive oil is the main source of dietary fat in the Mediterranean diet, it’s known to reduces blood sugar and cholesterol making it very beneficial to people with type 2 diabetes, it is also a great source of high-quality protein which helps you feel full and increases your metabolic rate.

4. Sweet potatoes


sweet potato.jpg

Sweet potatoes are gaining increased attention among people with diabetes, since they are lower on the glycemic index than regular white potatoes. They help to manage blood sugar levels when you eat the right serving size.

5. Eggs



Eggs are not only major sources of dietary cholesterol but also contain other important nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, proteins..The protein will help keep you full without affecting your blood sugar, slows digestion, also slows glucose absorption. Still keep in mind that it shouldn’t be consumed in excess if you have diabetes. In the U.S. guidelines recommend cholesterol be limited to less than 300 milligrams per day for healthy people — and one egg has about 200 milligrams of cholesterol. Those guidelines also suggest that people with type 2 stick to less than four eggs per week.

6. Greek Yogurt



Low-fat yogurt contains high-quality carbohydrates and protein, making it an excellent snack for people with diabetes. Studies also show that a diet high in calcium from yogurt and other calcium-rich foods is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Be sure to stick to low-fat or nonfat brands.

7. Broccoli



It may be time to start adding more of this green super veggie to your daily diet, in fact, according to a new study, broccoli could slow, and potentially reverse diabetes, it is rich in chromium which helps to balance glucose levels in the blood. Furthermore Broccoli is a great source of vitamins K and C. In fact, one serving of broccoli has twice as much vitamin C as an orange. It also contains plenty of potassium, and fiber , which is essential in producing and maintaining your body’s cells.

“Take that and fold it up and put it in your pocket for a while.”


Source:, @Diabetescouk


Staying alive shouldn’t cost so much. Join the ADA’s effort to #MakeInsulinAffordable for people with #diabetes:


“Insulin isn’t just a drug. It’s the difference between life and death for millions of people with diabetes – and it’s something they will need every day for the rest of their lives.

When you or someone you love needs insulin and cannot afford it, the choices are scary. With the average price of insulin skyrocketing in recent years – nearly tripling between 2002 and 2013 – more and more of our family members, our friends, our neighbors and ourselves are faced with tough choices to pay for this lifesaving drug.

This is unacceptable. It’s time to stand together and call for change.

Join us in calling for increased transparency and more affordable insulin. More than 188,000 people have signed the American Diabetes Association’s petition to support those struggling with insulin affordability. Add your name today.” – ADA

Heidi: Battling Diabetes With Exercise


When were you diagnosed and with what type of diabetes?

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on October, 24, 2011, at age 25. I just celebrated my 4-year “diaversary” a few weeks ago.

What has been the most difficult adjustment since diagnosis?

I think the simple fact of having to step in for my pancreas 24/7 has been the toughest thing for me to handle. Diabetes literally is affected by everything that you do—whether it’s eating, sitting in traffic, exercising, etc. Sometimes I joke that the color I am wearing that day impacts my blood sugar levels. You can do the same exact thing every day and experience very different results. For someone who is stubborn and a perfectionist, it’s quite the struggle.

But that same part of my personality that finds management so frustrating is the part that allows me to thrive each day because I won’t allow diabetes to get me down.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

I am so proud of the person who I have become in the last 29 years, but above all, I think I achieved my biggest accomplishment earlier this month when I completed the 2015 New York City Marathon (my first). I started running a couple of months after diagnosis to help with my diabetes management, and throughout that process, I just decided to keep challenging myself. I never really had any motivating factor to exercise until my health gave me a reason to care. For me though, I wanted to push more. Having diabetes makes it so much more challenging to run (even though exercise is positive!), so running gives me an avenue to fight back and prove, mainly to myself, that not only can I run, I can run long distances. Training for the marathon and the event itself was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I did it. And I did it with Type 1.

How does diabetes affect your ability to exercise? How do you manage these obstacles?

As freeing as running can be, doing it with Type 1 can sure feel restricting. My performance is impacted by my blood sugar levels, and activities need to be planned in advance because of everything I have to take into account. It’s hard for me to just say, “OK, I feel like going out for a run right now, so that’s what I am going to do.” That’s so frustrating! If I have insulin in my system, I tend to go low during a run because my insulin sensitivity increases. For me, I eat without insulin and then run to let the exercise burn off as much sugar as possible. If I need to, I’ll use insulin after I am done running.

I wear a Medical ID charm on my necklace that has my name and says I am an insulin-dependent Type 1 diabetic just in case I do experience severe low blood sugar during a run and somehow can’t take care of myself. I carry a running pack with my phone, my CGM receiver, my pump manager, a lancing device to prick my finger, test strips and high-sugar snacks like fruit gummies or gels in case my levels drop. For extra-long runs, I depend on family members to ride bike alongside me so I am not alone should I experience a medical emergency. It’s hard work, and I don’t even have it all figured out yet!

How has blogging benefited your experience with managing diabetes?

It has allowed me to put certain feelings and thoughts into writing. My career is in writing, and I often help other people tell their stories. Blogging helps me tell mine.

 What is the best advice you would give to a newly diagnosed person?

The absolute first thing I would say is that even though you have diabetes, you can still do anything. Yes, it might be more challenging, but it’s certainly possible. Take things one step at a time, and have patience.

Another thing that I need to stress is the importance of being open and talking to someone about it, whether it’s your family, friends, the diabetes online community or a diabetes coach/educator. Managing the disease every day is tough, and sometimes it feels like the numbers on your meter or your A1C results are grades for how you’re doing. It’s helpful to know you have someone to rely on without feeling judged.

Keep updated on Heidi’s inspirational story by visiting her blog The Runner Hi or follow her on twitter @TheRunnerHi

Debbie: Training with Diabetes


You rock climb and hike, can you tell us about how you manage that with diabetes? 

I am a type 1 diabetic since August 1989. I have always been active either in dance or gymnastics as a kid. Now I rock climb in an indoor gym but I am only a very beginner. I do have extensive experience camping hiking and backpacking as I have done some amazing three day backpacking trips in Kanannaskis.

I managed by using my insulinx meter system. Back then it was 2014 and I went up and down a lot but the experience of camping with a great group of friends who I trained on the glucagon system it was amazing.

Keep updated by following Debbie on twitter @DIABETES_DEB79

Garrett: JDRF Insight

Jensen, Garrett

1. When were you diagnosed and with what type of diabetes?

I was diagnosed with type one diabetes (T1D) at age 13 (8th grade), October 3rd, 2005. I just celebrated my 10 year “Dia-versary” this month.

2. How are you contributing to finding a cure? Do you believe that one day we will have a cure?

I contribute to find a cure by participating in the annual JDRF One Walk to Cure Diabetes and act as a corporate committee member, as well as Stanford University research. Being in the Silicon Valley affords us incredible opportunity to delve into the technology space. Significant work and research is being done in the device realm especially for type one diabetics and Stanford is at the forefront. I am lucky enough to live close by and participate in their research as a “guinea pig.” I am fascinated by this space and am more than willing to do my part by working with Dr. Buckingham and other brilliant team members to find the cure. I am confident that we will have a cure or what I consider an “effective cure” (meaning the user/patient with T1D is removed from the equation in managing disease) in the next ten to fifteen years and I want to be first in line to get it.

3. Why JDRF?

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) has done and continues to do incredible work in type 1 diabetes research. JDRF’s collaborates with many partners to remove the impact of T1D from people’s lives until we achieve a world without T1D. They are exploring a dynamic research agenda from the artificial pancreas to beta cell encapsulation, and smart insulin. Through the One Walk to Cure Diabetes, thousands participate in walks all over the country and fundraise in teams. It is an electric environment that all diabetics should engage with. If you would like to support the Ernst & Young team, you may give and share here:

4. Has diabetes ever affected your schooling or career?

Diabetes has absolutely affected my schooling or career. It has opened me up to a field of study and cause that I otherwise would have little knowledge of. It has created strong connections with friends and organizations all over the country. It has empowered me to not limit myself in what I can accomplish. Of course there have been challenges and managing a disease that you never get a break from is frustrating at times, but with my support group, I know there is always someone to call, text, see, e-mail, or message. I am even trying to get on The Amazing Race with a diabetic friend of mine from Pennsylvania I met a decade ago at the Chris Dudley Basketball Camp for Kids with Diabetes in Oregon.

5. How do you handle having diabetes when you are traveling?

I have learned many tricks traveling with diabetes. Some lessons I learned the hard way. Here are a few of the key tricks I picked up traveling abroad from weeks in Turkey to moths in SE Asia. Using a Medtronic insulin pump, Dexcom CGM, and Bayer glucometer means I need A LOT of supplies.

  • Bring a backup insulin pump by calling your pump company. They are affordable and all you must do is return it after your trip is finished. In humid locations and seasons, like Vietnam during a monsoon, your buttons may stick afterwards.
  • Bring two to three times the amount of supplies you need. For example, 9 day trip is 3 site changes, so bring six to nine or more.
  • To save bag space, remove the sites and reservoirs from the box
  • Bring Lantus! If your site fails or your pump fails, you will need long acting insulin. Otherwise, you will be using Novolog/Humalog every few hours.
  • Bring a doctor’s note and prescription. The prescription is not valid abroad, but it can help. The note is helpful in airports and checking baggage.
  • Be willing to speak up! You should not have to pay for extra baggage because you have a chronic illness. Push back on this and do not check all of your diabetes supplies. Never check insulin.
  • Always have a syringe in all your bags and inside your glucometer. It will save you when you are away from your hotel/hostel.
  • Bring a backup glucometer. I forgot mine on a bus in Istanbul on my first day of a six week trip. Thankfully, I got a new one at a pharmacy nearby. They don’t have One Touch.
  • Always have a low snack or glucose tabs in a day pack. Going on adventures and hikes in nature is great, but food may not be nearby.
  • BRING PROTEIN BARS! Some trips estimated at a few hours turn into five, bring something hearty to keep you at a good blood sugar level.
  • In Spanish, insulin pump is bomba de insulina.
  • Check often. Abroad you will not know what you are eating all the time or the carbohydrate amounts.
  • You are no longer operating in a consistent schedule, so you may not be as sensitive to blood sugars and you will experience highs and lows on planes and in-country. Don’t worry.
  • Do not listen to roller coaster warnings for diabetics.
  • Do not let T1D limit your travel or experiences. We can do anything non-diabetics can; we are just a bit more prepared.

6. What is the best advice you would give to the family of a newly diagnosed person?

Engage the many resources around you. The best way I have done that is through camps for kids with type one diabetes, and more specifically the Chris Dudley Foundations ( Basketball Camp for Kids with Diabetes. I have been attending the week long camp in Vernonia, Oregon for the last decade: four years as a camper and six years as staff. The community that is created among 75 campers from all over the country, Canada, and even Turkey is incredible. Everyone understands each other and shares experiences enabling them to feel empowered to live active with diabetes. In fact, almost the entire staff were campers themselves. Chris Dudley, retired from the NBA after 16 successful years and studying at Yale, has had T1D since he was 16 years old.

Learn more about JDRF and Garrett by following his twitter @GarrettJens