Jeanette Terry was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 11 years old, and she has since lived with diabetes through difficult life transitions, including the teenage years, college, and having children. She addresses the day-to-day struggles of living with diabetes—going beyond medical advice—to improve overall adherence and management.  

The holidays can be a hard time to have a chronic disease like diabetes. Not only do you have to worry about the delicious food you probably shouldn't be eating, but this busy time of year brings a lot of stress as well which can affect your diabetes control. It is important to have support from those closest to you, not only for your diabetes management but for your emotional well-being too.

Help them help you

One of the best things that you can do for your own health is to educate family and friends about diabetes and your personal treatment plan. The holidays are a great time to sit down with loved ones and really talk about what part diabetes plays in your life and what they can do to help you stay as healthy as possible. Once they have a basic understanding of your diabetes management it will be much easier to lean on them if the need arises. Sometimes it is just a relief to know that someone else knows and is willing to support you.

> There are many aspects of a disease like diabetes. While good diabetes management is conditional on the food that you eat, there are other factors that can affect your blood sugar levels. The emotional side of diabetes is rarely discussed but plays a huge role in the other aspects of the disease. Being in a solid place emotionally will help you make better food and diet choices which are essential around the holidays when there are so many tempting and delicious options to choose from.

Your family and friends can help support you in this area by trying to serve healthy alternatives and not tempt you with the delicious treats quite as often. Stable blood sugar levels lead to more stable emotional health, so start by making good diet decisions even if you really don’t want to. Later, you will be glad that you did so that you can more fully enjoy this wonderful time of year.

Get more from get-togethers

A big part of the holidays is getting together with friends and family to enjoy the season and each other’s company. Don’t exclude yourself from parties because you are afraid of eating in a social setting and worry that you won't be able to count carbs and control your blood sugars. Make a plan before you go and stick to it. Then focus on the people that you came to see and not the food being served. Whether you know it or not, you need that social interaction to stay healthy emotionally.

If you don’t have many get-togethers planned, make an effort to get out and see people and participate in Christmas festivities. This will get you out of the house and away from the temptation to eat poorly, and it will help prevent you from feeling down about your diabetes. Sometimes you have to reach out for the emotional support that you need. Others may not know exactly what you are going through, especially with diabetes. So reach out to them and let them know that you need them. And who knows, connecting with you may help their emotional state as well. Everyone deserves to be happy around the holidays, so make sure you reach out for the support you need so that this Christmas may be merry and bright.

To learn more about this topic:

Type 1 Diabetes: Coping and Support
Type 2 Diabetes: Coping and Support