Gingerbread houses. Latkes. Cookies and candy. Hot chocolate with whipped cream.
Holidays can be tough for people with type 2 diabetes. Temptations are everywhere. Schedules can be upended, meaning missed exercise sessions and erratic meal patterns.
Of course, there are ways to deal with the holiday crush – drinking more water, adding seltzer to wine, practicing portion control, etc. I’ve put many of these to good use in past years, along with a few mind tricks – eating with a smaller plate, wearing a tight dress (or belt), and concentrating on socializing over eating.
This year, I’m planning to try a new strategy – I’m simply going to worry less. Not only about what I’m eating, but also how much I’m exercising. I’m going to take a little diabetes vacation and give myself permission to enjoy some “forbidden” food during the holidays.
I read some good news the New York Times that seems to support my idea: according to research, the average weight gain over the holidays isn’t the widely publicized seven to ten pounds, but rather one. And while most of us would rather not gain at all, one pound seems a reasonable sacrifice to reduce the anxiety over every bite.
The way I see it, even an occasional blip on the glucose monitor – if I’ve been good all year – isn’t a real deal-breaker. It is, after all, the average of my blood sugars that matters, and if I’ve been doing well over the past eleven months (which I have, thank goodness), a few highs (within reason) probably won’t ruin my A1C.
Of course, adopting a diabetes holiday doesn’t mean I’m going to go hog wild and down every butter cookie in sight. But one cookie – or two – probably won’t be so bad. Mainly, I want to avoid feeling like I’m restricting myself from everything – because, as I’ve learned from experience, restriction just leads me to overindulge at a later date. I’m aiming to strike a balance where I can have a slice of pie or cake or an extra serving of maple butternut squash, in moderation and – here is the key thing – without guilt.
Here’s how I’m planning to do it:
- Give myself some leeway: I know that there will be times I’m going to overindulge. If I do “blow” my eating plan, I’m going to forgive myself and get back on track the next meal.
- Stay on schedule as much as possible: Although the holidays lend themselves to erratic schedules, I’m going to try not to miss my regular exercise sessions or meals.
- Practice mindful eating: As I eat, I’m going to enjoy it. I know that paying attention to my food can lead me to eat less and enjoy it more.
- Forget guilt: Having lived with type 2 diabetes for over 25 years, I’m very familiar with feeling “bad” for eating the wrong thing. This holiday season, though, I’m going to try to keep guilt out of the equation by consciously reminding myself that there are no good or bad foods.
Here’s to a joyful – and guilt-free – holiday!