With another holiday season upon us, we have more chances than usual for our blood sugar to get out of whack. There are several reasons for this, and if you will permit me, I’m going to list eight of them here.
Why? Because I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my diabetes management over the holidays. So you can consider these a sort of “don’t make the same mistakes I’ve made” list.
1. Be careful what, how, and when you drink. Others have written about alcohol and diabetes far better than I ever will. See HERE and HERE and HERE. Of course there are more chances to imbibe in December, and being careful does not always mean you have to say No. It just means it’s important to be aware of how alcohol affects your blood sugar. Hint: it’s not how you might think.
2. What about those parties? There’s no question there are more social situations right now than there are earlier in the year. Some of the questions I ask myself are: Is a party taking the place of a meal? Is it between meals, or later in the evening? It’s important for me to know, because it will help me determine whether I need to set a temporary basal on my pump (either higher or lower).
3. Keep up on the BG checks. If I know I’m going to a party that starts around 6:00 p.m. (around when I usually eat dinner), I can do a check before I leave the house and when I get to the party, so I have a good starting point before I decide to eat something. Of course, if you’re wearing a CGM, you’re going to be looking at that a little more often through the night, and that’s great. If the party includes some finger food but it’s not an actual meal, I’ll probably just bolus a little after I see what’s there to eat and guess what my carb intake might be. The point is to stay on top of my BGs in situations like this because it’s easy for me to have numbers that are not normal, for various reasons.
4. Do not over bolus. As someone who makes this mistake from time to time, let me say it again: Do not over bolus. Your diabetes numbers do not have to be perfect in December, and it’s probably best that you don’t set yourself up for disaster by trying too hard to get to 100 mg/dL. If you’re checking your numbers a lot anyway, you’re obviously doing what you can to mitigate super high numbers. Don’t make it worse by rage blousing and winding up with a hypoglycemic EMT or ER visit at the holidays. I’ve been there. If I can help it, I won’t make this mistake again.
5. That said, Yes, you can eat that. Hey, don’t look to me for validation for eating that cupcake with the red and green sprinkles. But if you do it, don’t complain about a high BG number later. Most of us are adults. We’re capable of making our own decisions, while usually recognizing where the line is, even if we do cross it once in a while. Ignore that crummy “sugar free” [insert dessert name here]. Often, the carb count isn’t any less than the real thing. It just doesn’t taste as good, and sometimes it’s laced with sorbitol, which means if you do eat it, you might be spending more time than usual in the bathroom, rather than with your friends and family.
6. Go with the flow. Like I said in the last paragraph, your numbers are not always going to be perfect. Do you want to concentrate on diabetes perfection, or do you want to enjoy special times with family and friends? We’re meant to celebrate the holidays, not obsess over our next A1c.
7. Have a diabuddy? When spending time in places and among people where your diabetes isn’t well known, it’s especially helpful if someone else in attendance “gets it”. If your spouse, or a friend who knows you and/or your diabetes well can attend with you, you’ll have the added feeling that no matter what happens, someone will be there who understands you and can help you when you need it. Who doesn’t like to have a wingman? Bonus tip: a bracelet or necklace announcing your status as a Person With Diabetes is almost as good.
8. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Be grateful. Be nice. It’s okay to talk diabetes (it’s kind of hard for me not to talk about diabetes), but it’s a festive time too. Ask someone else how they’re doing. Tell someone how happy you are to see them. Wish them all the best this holiday season.
So remember to check often. Be careful while imbibing. Don’t be too hard on yourself. And have a happy and fun time this December.