Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. Jewels is the moderator of Diabetic Connect’s weekly #DCDE Twitter chat, and she and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.

Let’s not beat around the bush — holidays are a wonderful but challenging time of the year for most people living with diabetes. With stress levels ballooning, sweets galore, and cooler temperatures settling in a decisive plan of attack set into motion may just be what the doctor ordered.

Rather than digging yourself out of high levels of indulgences at years end, choose to greet the New Year with a leg up. It’s guaranteed to be a refreshing place to start from.

Start January in December

What is the transformational magic that happens in January when New Years Resolutions are made?

I’m not sold on it, and I propose instead to start a month early. There’s no reason to wait to work on our goals until January; health is equally as embraceable in December.

Lower the stress barometer

No matter which way you slice it, stress isn’t good for our health. Stress is the root cause of many physical complaints, and diabetes isn’t exempt from the equation.

When stress strikes, so do hormones. High blood sugars follow on their coattails as the body releases its pent-up energy. Even if you’re excited to host a giant holiday party, don’t be surprised if you start with your blood sugar in the 200s from the stress of readying.

Pay attention to your stress level and try your best to do something about it.
Yoga Journal suggests 7 Restorative Poses to Stay Grounded during the Holidays — they are so relaxing you may need to wake yourself up from one to the other.

Get a Move On

Ok, so maybe my previous plan isn’t for you. But with all of the holiday carbs staring us in the face day after day, exercise should be in the plan. An added plus: exercise is a stress buster, increasing feel-good hormones and settling down errant blood sugars.

Try something new and do it with a friend. Studies show exercise is more fun and you’re more likely to do it again with a partner to motivate you. According to PsychCentral, even a virtual training partner can improve your stick-to-itiveness by a 100%!

Can you commit to Zumba, spin class, kickboxing, or yoga this year? If you’re not into group fitness — no problem — take a walk, ride your bike, cross country ski or go for a run.

Remake your Recipes

There’s no reason to ditch the sugar all together, but there’s certainly not a lack of healthy cookie recipes to tap into. Cooking with coconut or almond flour instead of wheat flour for instance can significantly reduce the carbohydrate load in treats.

Check out Diabetic Connect’s baking hacks and start making some healthy exchanges for old school recipes that are dying for a makeover.

Don’t add to the load at holiday parties. Bring something healthy to contribute and start by eating what you brought. Your friends will thank you; they’re in the same boat trying to stay afloat during the holiday season as well.

To learn more about diabetes management during the holidays:

Diabetes Tips for the Holidays
Holiday Eating Strategies
How to Fit In Fitness over the Holidays