Holidays with Diabetes

Holidays for Everyone with Diabetes: (Prediabetes, Type 1 or Type 2)


The holiday season does not need to be a minefield for persons with diabetes, no matter the type.  Keeping in mind what our goals are can open the door to this festive season.  Let’s look at the goals for each of these diagnoses.

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease. It is characterized by the daily need for insulin replacement, usually in the form of multiple insulin injections per day or an insulin pump. The main goal is blood glucose control by balancing food, insulin and activity. Knowing how much carbohydrate one is consuming, whether food or drink, and how much insulin is needed for that amount of carbohydrate usually keeps blood sugars under control. When the primary goal is regulating blood sugars, there is some flexibility with the specific types of foods, as long as the food/carbohydrate is “covered” accurately by insulin. Calories are a secondary concern for those who are watching their weight.

With prediabetes, the overall goal is to prevent progression to Type 2 Diabetes.  The goals are usually to increase activity/fitness and to control or lose weight, both of which combat insulin resistance. Therefore, calorie intake is an important goal.  People with prediabetes often have difficulty with high blood pressure and/or cholesterol so watching amounts of sodium and saturated fats play into their game plan.

In Type 2 DM, people start with the same concerns as prediabetes and then add concerns about side effects from medications and/or insulin. It really depends upon where a person is in the progression of this condition. Calories usually continue to be a concern, along with health in general, so it is important to monitor sodium and fat intake while increasing physical activity. Moderate, consistent carbohydrate intake helps keep blood sugars balanced so the makeup of the meal continues to be important.  People with Type 2 who are on an insulin pump or are taking a long acting and possibly a rapid acting insulin have a little more flexibility with the types of foods they eat. However, they also need to keep in mind their other goals of controlling blood pressure, blood fats and weight.

Knowing what type of diabetes and the treatment goals help open up the mysteries of food, blood sugar control and the holidays.  Diabetes is not just one condition with the same goals, but several different ones with different treatments and goals.  The age lines are blurring today so just knowing “childhood onset or adult onset” doesn’t work anymore. Knowledge of each person’s condition is crucial in the game plan.  Overall, a goal for anyone, with or without diabetes, would be to enjoy this special time of the year with those who are important and loved, with the lights, decorations and food as a backdrop and not the main focus. Let our BN dietitians know how we can help!


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