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Tips for a Happier Holiday Season

Keeping stress and calories in check

For some people, the holidays may be a challenging time, especially if you live with diabetes. The season offers many temptations, and the pressure to indulge may feel overwhelming. But a little planning and a healthy dose of good cheer might help keep stress to a minimum and keep the focus on what’s really important this time of year.

Tips for a happier holiday season

Whether at a party or at work, shopping for gifts or preparing meals at home, temptations may pop up anywhere this season. At holiday parties, choose the smallest plate, and load it up with lower-starch vegetables first. And be aware of hidden calories in holiday mainstays like chocolate and eggnog.  (Be sure to talk to your diabetes care team if considering making changes to your meal plan.)

Further reading: Registered dietitian Jackie Mills shares tips for mindful consumption during the holiday season, including trading off on carbs at a meal to make room for an after-dinner treat.

Diabetes-friendly holiday baking

If you’re counting carbs,  that doesn’t mean necessarily mean that all festive cookies, cakes and confections are off-limits. Prepare smaller portion sizes for homemade desserts and adjust the amount of sugar in recipes with a combination of artificial and natural sweeteners. Techniques such as lining pans with parchment paper instead of buttering them can help make traditional holiday treats diabetes-friendlier.

Further reading: An RD shares holiday baking hints, including ways to substitute traditional ingredients and reduce sugar in recipes that may make desserts diabetes-friendlier.

Gluten-free baking with diabetes

Those who are following a gluten-free diet may face additional challenges when baking diabetes-friendlier versions of holiday desserts. Conventional baking techniques don’t always apply to gluten-free versions, and ingredients can be tricky to master at first. Be sure to test out gluten-free recipes beforehand to help avoid unexpected results!

Further reading: Adding yogurt, extra eggs or fruit purees to make baked goods super-moist, and other tips to help keep your holiday baking gluten-free.

Handling holiday stress

The pressure of choosing the right gifts for everyone on your list may pose another potential source of holiday stress. Plan ahead and decide on a workable budget before shopping. Or spend time instead of money and create coupons for thoughtful services such as babysitting that friends or family members can redeem throughout the year.

Further reading: Diabetes-focused psychotherapist Eliot LeBow offers advice for managing holiday stress by planning, budgeting and enjoying favorites in moderation.

Festive holiday drinks for people living with diabetes

When it’s time to toast, there are plenty of festive diabetes-friendlier options. Reach for a lighter version of holiday favorites, such as soy nog instead of traditional eggnog. For a little mocktail sparkle, try seltzer with a splash of seasonal cranberry juice, and float a berry or two in the glass for a festive garnish.

Further reading: Registered dietitian Jill Weisenberger suggests sparkling punches and other mocktails to enjoy for diabetes-friendlier holiday drinking.

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