How does one approach glucose control during the holidays?
Holidays are generally a time where we relax and let our hair down a bit more than at other times. Included in this are dietary relaxations like consuming more refined sugar than normal as well as alcohol in slightly greater amounts and strengths, depending on your preference and age. Also for some it may include more than normal outdoor activity and exercise.
All of these have repercussions for glucose levels.
So, obviously each person has an entirely unique set of circumstances as well as metabolism but roughly speaking here are some basic holiday guidelines.
If you are a type 1 and injecting insulins and testing :
1.) Consider testing your sugar more often if you are exercising more and possibly feeling hypo.
2.) Consider adjusting your insulin dose at meals with more carbs and simple carbs than you are used to (perhaps go through your dietician and doctor re this).
3.) Understand that if you drink a lot and sleep in the next morning this is dangerous and alcohol will at first raise your sugars and then after about 10-12 hours drop your sugars, so watch out for a “missed” hypo and make sure you tag a mate to check on you at least.
4.) If you are snacking and the carb count is more than 10-15 g of carbs you may need to bolus for this kind of snack in order to keep your sugars stable but it really depends on a number of factors other than just this.
5.) the weather plays a bigger role than you think, some people will go either high or low depending on very hot or very cold conditions so try to understand your body and rather pre-empt the rise or fall or at least be vigilant and test more often.
6.) consider wearing a type of medic alert bracelet in case of unconsciousness – it may save your life.
For type 2 diabetics on oral agents only or have additional insulin injections
1.) Most importantly holidays can mean massive weight gain, and this is very bad and hard to get rid of in the long run. Pre-empt this by seeing a dietician who could give you guidelines on how to cheat without too much weight gain. Also see it as a challenge to maintain your weight rather than a punishment and reward yourself with things other than the wrong food on the holidays. Set incentives and be kind to yourself with spoilers that blow your hair back and don’t put weight on.
2.) Make sure that you have enough medication and testing strips for the time that you are away as well as some back-up diabetes supplies.
3.) Know what carbs are and how they affect your sugars and plan accordingly.
4.) Know the carb content of the alcohol you are drinking and factor it into the daily calculation of insulin (if injecting) as well as the total effect of the alcohol and your activities (physical) or not.
5.) Try to see the holiday as an opportunity for increased movement -exercise in many different forms and find one that works for you, start the routine on holiday.
6.) Experiment with different healthy food and take mental note of how you feel and what it does to your sugars.
We all need a break, a re-set and a proper unwind. So most of all give yourself the mental “space” and time you need to do just this. Planning for your holiday around your diabetes will aid in enjoying this time more and taking stress out of certain situations.
There are always healthcare professionals on duty, know the nearest casualty location and telephone numbers as well as ambulance and other emergency numbers before leaving home.