Holiday Eating Tips for Residents with Diabetes

The CDC estimates that 17% of residents in assisted living have diabetes.  The holidays can be an especially challenging time for your residents with diabetes as they are surrounded by holiday parties and food temptations.  The American Diabetes Association offers these tips to help guide people with diabetes through holiday events: 

  1. Focus on friends and family instead of food.
    Remember, the holidays are a time to slow down and catch up with your loved ones. Play games, volunteer, or spend time outdoors enjoying the weather together.
  2. It’s a party, but don’t overdo it.
    Eat slowly, and really enjoy the foods that you may only have once a year. If the meal will be served near your usual meal time, try to eat the same amount of carbohydrate that you normally would for a meal. If you plan to have a portion of dessert, cut back on another carbohydrate food during the main course. Make sure your portions are reasonable and resist going back for second helpings.
  3. Eat before you eat.
    Don’t skip meals or snacks earlier in the day to “save” calories and carbs for the large holiday feast later on. If you skip meals, it will be harder to keep your blood glucose in control. Also, if you arrive somewhere hungry, you will be more likely to overeat.
  4. Bring what you like.
    Don’t spend time worrying about what will be served. Offer to bring your favorite diabetes-friendly dish. If you count carbs, check your recipe’s nutrition facts so you know how big a serving is and how many carbs it has.
  5. Drink in moderation.
    If you drink alcohol, remember to eat something beforehand to prevent low blood glucose levels later. Whether it’s a glass of red wine or a beer, holiday drinks can add a significant amount of calories to your holiday intake. Keep it to no more than 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men.
  6. Stay active.
    One reason that we have problems managing diabetes and weight during the holidays is our lack of physical activity. Sure, the holidays are busy, but plan time into each day for exercise and don’t break your routine. Make the holidays an active time!

    • Train for and participate in a local holiday run or walk (like a turkey trot or Independence Day run).
    • Go for a walk with your loved ones after eating a holiday dinner.
    • Offer to help clean up after a meal instead of sitting in front of leftover food. This will help you avoid snacking on it and get you moving around!
  7. If you overindulge, get back on track.
    If you eat more carbs or food than you planned for, don’t think you have failed. Stop eating for the night and focus on spending the rest of your time with the people around you. Include extra exercise, monitor your blood glucose levels, and get back on track with your usual eating habits the next day.

Always follow instructions from the resident’s physician, especially regarding meals and alcohol.  Share these tips with your residents, their family, and your staff.

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