Here’s a not so lovely fact. According to the American Diabetes Association, 30.3 million people in the United States have a diabetes diagnosis. That’s a whopping number and can lead us to safely assume that as a nurse you’ve encountered your fair share of diabetic patients. November is actually National Diabetes Awareness Month. November also kickstarts the holiday season. Put two and two together and you’ve got an equation that doesn’t make much sense. If a person is smart about it though, the two can coexist. Read on for a full list of management tips and be sure to pass them along to any patients who can use the encouragement.
Come Armed with a Plan
There will be food aplenty. Guaranteed. And it’ll be sooo tempting to try it all. Guaranteed as well. Nevertheless, you’ve got to make it your business not to lose yourself. So here’s the game plan:
1. Eat close to your usual times so as to keep blood sugar levels as steady as possible. And in the event that the meal is served a little later than usual, have a snack at your ‘regular’ meal time and try and eat less at the actual meal.
2. Pick and choose. If you treat yourself to something sweet, cut back on the carbs during the meal.
3. Do not skip meals. I repeat. Do. Not. Skip. Meals. You know as well as I do that there’s no saving up carbs. Your numbers are just likely to end up out of whack and besides, you’ll end up hungry and are then liable to overeat.
4. Offer to bring along a healthy dish if you’ve been invited out. Win-win for all parties.
Think Before You Drink
I know, I know… Everyone’s got a wine glass or beer in hand. But keep in mind that alcohol consumption can lower blood sugar levels. And of course, every drink varies in the amount of calories and sugar etc. that it contains. In other words, do your research on your favorite drinks. And as an FYI, the recommended alcohol limit for diabetics is no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two per day for men. Drink=12 ounces of beer or 4 ounces of wine or 1 ounce of distilled spirits.
There is a lot going on during this time of year. And somehow for so many people, exercise is the first thing to get axed from the to-do list. And I get it; it ain’t fun. But being active and working out is your secret weapon. First of all, exercising is a natural way to bring down too-high blood sugar levels. It can also help reduce stress (ahem, too much family time;), and then of course it can make up for eating a wee bit more than usual. So even if your exercise routine looks like a walk around the block after a meal… go for it. Anything is better than nothing.
Catch Some ZZZZ’s
I just finished saying that workouts are the first to go during the busy holiday season. There’s a close second though; our good friend ‘sleep.’ Parties, dinners, and family time means later nights. Later nights mean less sleep. Simple math. And of course, lack of sleep can make it infinitely harder to manage blood sugar levels. (Have you noticed a recurring theme here??) Aim for 7-8 hours, like this you’ll avoid those cravings for those foods high in sugar and high in fat.
Bottom line is, you can enjoy the spirit of the holidays and the good times with family and friends without going overboard. And of course, if you get knocked off course and your numbers are simply having a bad day, don’t throw in the towel. Get a good night’s rest and be prepared for a better and brighter tomorrow!