Top 10 holiday dos for managing diabetes

Let’s face it, the holiday season is all about the sights, sounds and tastes as we celebrate with family and friends. By tradition, we gather around a feast of fancy foods that entice even the most self-controlled.

Controlling holiday food intake is especially important for those managing conditions like diabetes. So, how can someone overcome the temptation to overindulge?

Here are 10 dos to stay healthy while still enjoying the holiday feast:

1–Start with breakfast. Fuel your body with a carbohydrate/protein combination. Try Greek yogurt and fresh fruit or a whole grain English muffin with peanut butter.

2–Fresh is best. Choose raw fruits and vegetables over those in butter, cream sauce or gravy.

3–Roast, bake or broil. Prepare meat this way, instead of frying, to reduce the amount of fat.

4–Choose light meat. Light meat is healthier for your heart than dark meat.

5–Make a healthy low-calorie dish. Even if you aren’t hosting, you can help by taking a healthy dish everyone can enjoy.

6–Eat lunch or a small snack. Eat something before the holiday meal to help maintain a stable blood sugar level. Skipping meals to save up calories for the big dinner may make your blood sugar harder to manage.

7–Go zero! Drink a no-calorie or low-calorie beverage like water, tea or seltzer.

8–Clear the table. If you are hosting, clear the table and refrigerate remaining food to help you and your guests avoid continued snacking.

9–Enjoy dessert! Choose a small portion, take your time and savor the taste.

10–Get active after dinner. Food is fuel, so plan a family walk or game after dinner that will get you moving and lower your blood sugar.

These are just a few of the things you can do to manage your diabetes, feel well, and avoid more serious health complications through a season of tempting treats. We hope these ten tips will bring you a happy holiday season and a healthy new year!


Kate McKernan Patteta is the program coordinator for UPMC Susquehanna’s Diabetes & Nutrition Care Center. She has lived with Type 1 diabetes for 40 years and is passionate about the role nutrition and diabetes education play in disease prevention, management, and overall wellness. For more information on diabetes management, visit