The holidays are a time to be spent with family, friends and loved ones. But with the heaps of food available, it can be a tricky time for people living with diabetes. To get through the holidays while keeping your blood sugar levels steady, take a look at these quick tips.

Add exercise to the festivities

Why wait until New Year's to make a resolution? The holidays are a great time to exercise, whether it's a football game with the family, holiday race, sledding, or an afternoon at the gym. If you have a few days off, make the most of them and avoid the regret that comes after sitting on the couch all weekend. Plus, exercise is the best way to work up an appetite.

Don't skip meals

Don't skip meals earlier in the day. This will only make you hungrier and you’ll consume more food. Keeping a normal diet schedule can prevent this.

Watch out for app overload

We're not talking about the apps on your smartphone - appetizers can bring hundreds of unneeded calories. In fact, grazing on things like chips and dip or cheese and meats could quickly pack as many as 500 calories. To avoid eating too much before the dinner bell rings, fill a small appetizer plate once instead of snacking on chips and dip straight from the bowl. This makes it easier to monitor how much you're eating. Also, opt for vegetables whenever possible.

Moderate your drinks

It's alright to enjoy a celebratory drink at a holiday party. The American Diabetes Association recommends drinking no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. For those who decide to drink, consider light alternatives like light beer, a wine spritzer, or champagne. But know the nutrition facts about what you’re drinking: even an 8-ounce spiked eggnog can pack over 300 calories!

Plan your plate

Before it's time to dig into delicious foods, make sure you have a plan for your meal. It's a good idea to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, salad, or Brussels sprouts. A lot of holiday dinners mostly feature starchy foods. Consider bringing a side that has non-starchy veggies. Fill one-fourth of your plate with starchy foods like a whole-wheat roll, sweet potatoes, or corn casserole. The last fourth can consist of a lean protein, such as chicken without the skin, roasted turkey breast, or fish. A side of fruit is always a good option, too!

Save sweets for special occasions

How about strawberries dipped in sugar-free chocolate? Or cinnamon-baked apples? Fruit-based desserts make a great alternative for individuals with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. For other, less healthy treats, make sure to eat only moderate amounts. Generally speaking, there are no foods you must avoid completely, but moderation is paramount.

Monitor glucose

With all of the holiday food and a disrupted eating schedule, glucose levels might fluctuate more than usual. Be sure to keep on eye on your blood sugar throughout the day, and if you use insulin, don’t forget to take it when necessary.

For more on managing diabetes during the holidays:

Holiday Eating Strategies, Part 1
Holiday Eating Strategies, Part 2
Surviving the Holidays without Blowing Your Blood Sugar Control