By Dr. Traci Ferguson
The holidays are upon us! It’s a time to gather with family and friends to indulge in some of our favorite holiday foods and beverages. But for the 29 million Americans living with diabetes, this time of year can be particularly challenging.
Diabetes—the seventh leading cause of death in the United States—is a metabolic disorder that affects the way the body uses and stores glucose, or sugar. That’s why people living with diabetes have to keep their blood sugar levels under control.
Holiday parties, vacation plans and travel can disrupt our regular routines, making it harder to manage blood sugar levels. So it’s especially important for people living with diabetes to diligently avoid overeating rich foods and to follow a regular exercise regimen.
Below are some steps you can take to keep your health in tip-top shape this holiday season:
- Practice Portion Control – People living with diabetes can enjoy the holiday foods they love, but in moderation. First, fill the majority of your plate with healthy vegetables. Next, if your favorite side dish is sweet potato casserole, slow down and savor a small portion. Then, you can skip the slice of pumpkin or sweet potato pie for dessert.
- Get Moving – Regular exercise not only helps to reduce stress during this time of year but helps manage weight gain. Get moving with family and friends, such as taking a walk after a big meal.
- Get Some Zzz’s – Between parties, holiday shopping and family get-togethers, the holidays can leave you stretched for time and sleep, but sleep loss can make it harder to control blood sugar levels. When we’re sleep deprived, we tend to eat more and prefer high-fat, high-sugar foods. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
- Check Your Blood Sugar – If you are taking insulin or medications that lower your blood sugar, check your blood sugar levels more frequently during the holidays.
Still unsure about how to manage your diabetes this holiday season? Talk to your doctor and create a plan that’s right for you.
Dr. Traci Thompson Ferguson is WellCare’s chief medical director, medical management and the company’s executive sponsor of its fundraising initiative for the American Diabetes Association. Read more to learn why Dr. Ferguson and WellCare associates are on a mission to support the American Diabetes Association and to help WellCare’s more than 3.8 million members live better, healthier lives.