School’s out. You have relatives and friends in town. There are three scheduled holiday parties, traveling to do, and your normal routines are being changed daily. The festivities of the season can often cause added stress!
But you can still enjoy the magic of it all with some forward thinking and creative ideas! Provided by the Diabetes Research Institute’s Education Team and the PEP Squad’s family therapist, Ilene M. Vinikoor, D.C.S.W., L.M.F.T., here are our 9 Need-to-Know Holiday Tips:
1. Set realistic expectations. Diabetes is a challenge any day of the year and can become even more so during the holiday season. Expect that with all the excitement, blood glucose fluctuations, high or low, are most likely going to occur at some point. Keep with the holiday spirit, and put your energy into the solution, rather than the problem, if undesired blood glucose levels occur.
2. Maintaining your routine of blood sugar checks and insulin administration will help monitor and reduce the impact of the holiday season. Keep in mind, if you have family visiting for the holidays, this can pose challenges and stresses on the child’s schedule, especially if their favorite bed and pillow has been given up, even for their favorite grandparent. We all know about the impact of stress on diabetes.
3. Moderation is key when it comes to candy and foods high in carbohydrates and including them within the established meal plan. Think of some creative ways to deal with extra treats, such as trading them or spacing them out over the following months. Look for opportunities to revise some of the traditional recipes, such as reducing the sugar or fat content, including sugar substitutes, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and other sweet-tasting spices and flavorings. Not only is this better for the child with diabetes but for the entire family!
4. Keep it simple. Over-scheduling holiday activities creates stress. Do your best to allow down-time for you and your family, and give yourself permission to skip any activities that are not as important.
5. Redefine how you express love. An abundance of food has become the focal point of the season when it should be about gathering together with family and friends. Encourage game-playing, an adventure walk, a fun art activity, or a karaoke competition of holiday songs — anything to replace eating as the primary activity.
6. Get children moving with fun activities to balance the increase in food intake. You want to try to limit time in front of the television or on the computer, but make it a family affair, not just something the child with diabetes needs to do.
7. If you are traveling, remember extra supplies, medical alert identification, hypoglycemia kit, time changes and if going to a foreign country, research food choices and key phrases in the local language regarding emergency care.
8. Talk, listen and forgive. Sometimes we become so preoccupied with holiday activities that we forget the importance of talking and listening to one another. Inevitably, people will disappoint you, and you might even disappoint yourself. Forgive yourself and others when things go wrong and strive to do the best you can to accept your own imperfections and the imperfections of others.
9. Enjoy the holidays; the key focus should be on spending quality time together with family and friends and collecting lots of fabulous memories that you can talk about for years to come.
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