Diabetes and the Holidays. Ho, ho, ho…

Posted on November 15, 2011


It’s that time of year.  Thanksgiving is next week and then Christmas is right around the corner.  Yay!

I love this time of  year.  And having diabetes makes it a bit more special (and sometimes challenging). 

Let’s start with food.  I love food, especially this time of year. 

We all indulge during the holidays.  There are just many yummy goodies everywhere – home, school, parties, and the list goes on.  Delectable treats go with the holidays.  There is no way around it.

Yes, you can make healthy alternatives,  keep most of the goodies out of your house, refrain from walking by the food tables at parties, but we are human beings.  We all are gonna crave holiday treats.  Or most of us are gonna crave it.  All is a pretty strong assumption.  I love sweets so I cannot refrain.  Is that okay? 

Yes, yes, yes.  At least in my humble opinion.  I am a diabetic, but I am going to partake in holiday experiences too.  I have already been looking at the holiday magazines when I check out at the grocery store.  I have already promised my daughters we are gonna make Christmas cookies, and I am already having visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.

Let’s go back a few years (many years).  As a diabetic child, my parents were pretty darn strict.  Keep in mind, this was 38 years ago.  Living with diabetes was so different back then.  The endocrinologist did not expect me to live more than 20 years.  Sugar was a big “no no.”  People would call my parents if they saw me trying to eat something with sugar in it.  Diet and insulin were very regimented.  Even during the holidays, anything with sugar was off limits.  I used to get an orange or apple in my stocking.  Luckily, that has changed.  Bring on the chocolate. 

Now don’t get me wrong.  I still treat my diabetes with the utmost respect and try to eat healthy, exercise, etc.  I don’t plan on eating a whole bag or container of anything in one sitting (even though Ben and Jerry’s by the pint is tempting). 

More importantly, I am not obsessed with my diabetes.  I have not and will not let it control my life.  I do anything I want to do (with some modifications if necessary) and that includes celebrating the holidays. 

Let’s take it a step further.  You always hear about depression during the holidays.  What about the guilt and depression associated with the holidays and diabetes?  Where does that play into my life?  I must admit, guilt and depression do sneak in occasionally.  And not just at the holidays.  I think most people living with a chronic condition are going to have moments of guilt and depression.  But I do not let it linger.  I take charge and move forward.  Diabetes and all.  Focusing on the positive things in my life – my kids, my husband, my dogs, my home, and my health.  I am alive and celebrating every single day.  Including the holidays.  I am here.  I need to be thankful for that. 

Sometimes easier said then done with diabetes.  Going back to guilt a minute as I eat a Hershey dark chocolate kiss (love them).  Guilt.  Guilt can be consuming.  I can feel guilty for eating chocoate.  I can feel guilty for only running 5 miles today.  I can feel guilty for not testing my blood two hours post breakfast.  Yet, I still do it.  It is my choice.  Do it or do not do it.  And I either  feel at peace, guilty, or upset (angry at my diabetes) with my choice.   

Guilt and anger can take over your life.  Do not let that happen.  Acknowledge your guilt and anger.  

I was raised to not eat sugar so I think some of those memories and feeling still linger inside of me.  So what to do?  Allow myself the pleasure of chocolate.  Bolus (take insulin) appropriately for the chocolate, eat only a piece or two and keep on going.  Let go of the guilt and anger.  Know that I did all I can do for my overall physical and mental health – beyond my diabetes. 

And recognize that living with diabetes is not going to perfect.  No matter how hard you try, there are going to be bumps in the road.  That is part of like – diabetic or not.  Yes, we diabetics may have to make more adjustments in our lives than the average Joe, but that is okay.  That is our life.  In a way, it makes our lives even more special.  We spend more time taking care of ourselves and tuning into life. 

This is especially true during the holidays when we are more likely to have higher blood sugars (from unhealthy foods, overeating), less time for exercising (shopping can be exercise if you walk around the stores), less sleep (shopping and wrapping and cooking/baking takes lots of time), and lots of pure emotions (the holidays can bring forth lots of emotions).   Slow down and tune into yourself and your diabetes.  Receive diabetes as a gift. 

A gift that you cannot exchange or tuck away in the closet.  A gift that needs special attention every single day.  Take care of this wonderful gift  because if you take care of this gift, it will give back.  You will get your life.  And there is no better gift than that.  Life.   Life with diabetes.

Happy Holidays a bit early everyone…good health and happiness to all!