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The holiday season is rolling ‘round and the New Year is in sight! At this time of the year, your lifestyle habits and normal routine of managing diabetes may become disrupted. This means your blood sugar may become harder to control. Some of the reasons why this happens during the holidays are that people tend to:

  • Eat more foods, especially sweet and carbohydrate-rich foods

  • Eat meals at odd or irregular times

  • Drink more alcohol

  • Be more relaxed or more stressed

  • Be more or less active

While you might give yourself some leeway with special treats and sweets… you can also plan ahead, monitor more often and take steps to better control your sugar levels to enjoy the holiday season in a healthy manner. 

1. Think Timing.

  • Stick to your normal mealtime schedules as much as possible, and plan in advance for how you will be making changes to your diabetes management routine if your mealtime is changed.

  • For example, if you take insulin injections or a pill that lowers blood glucose – you may need to take less insulin or have a snack at your normal mealtime to prevent low blood glucose. Ask your diabetes educator about this if you have any questions.

2. Healthify Your Holiday Helpings

  • Make simple substitutions in your holiday cooking to “healthify” the food options. Making a casserole? Try using lower fat sour cream. Thinking of baking a pie? Try decreasing the amount of sugar you add.

  • Be aware of the carbohydrate foods you are eating and aim for an amount similar to what you would eat in a regular meal. Have a reasonable portion of your favourite options and pass on the rest. But if you want to try everything – make your portions of each option smaller!

3. Vitalize with Vegetables

  • Usually vegetable options are limited in holiday menus, but they don’t have to be! Not only are non-starchy vegetables great for dressing up the table with fresh colour, they fill you up with fibre that will help stabilize your blood sugars during a meal, and prevent you from overeating.

  • Bring a dressed-up salad or side of seasoned steamed vegetables to your next holiday gathering!

4. Decrease Dessert

  • A slice of pumpkin pie can contain up to 50 grams of carbohydrates! To prevent having too many carbohydrates which will spike your blood sugars, cut down on the portion size of your desserts. You can also substitute some carbohydrates from your main meal for your dessert – such as having less mashed potatoes.

5. Adjust for Alcohol

  • Drink alcohol in moderation. Avoid drinking on an empty stomach – especially if you are taking insulin or medication that can cause a low blood sugar. Pay attention to the signs and symptoms of low blood sugars, which may also be delayed due to alcohol intake.

  • Let some people around you know that you are diabetic, just in case!

6. Advocate for Activity

  • Staying active during the holidays may be more difficult since normal routines are disrupted. Try taking advantage of the family gathering to organize an evening walk after the big meal, or a fun activity like dancing or skating with the children. Get your body moving and grooving to the festivity!

Try this recipe for a healthy, flavourful take on holiday greens!

Rosemary Green Beans
(Yields 6 servings)


1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed

– 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

– 2 green onions, sliced (about 1/4 cup)

– 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

– 1 teaspoon olive oil

– 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

– 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

– Garnish: fresh rosemary sprigs


1. Sprinkle green beans evenly with 1/4 tsp. salt, and place in a steamer basket over boiling water; cover and steam 10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Plunge green beans into ice water to stop the cooking process, and drain.

2. Sauté green onions and rosemary in hot oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes or until softened. Add green beans, pecans, lemon rind, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, stirring until thoroughly heated. Garnish, if desired, and serve immediately.


Happy holidays – Stay happy and healthy everyone!