It was a week before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. Wrong! A week before Christmas is probably one of the busiest times of the year. The anxiety and stress can be overwhelming.
People deal with anxiety in many different ways. Some shut down and do nothing. Some pray their way through their busy schedule. Some get busier, and others get angry or depressed.
People who deal with diabetes need to be reminded that anxiety and stress can affect blood glucose readings as much as food and drinks. Mindful eating when under stress is especially important during the holidays.
Pay attention to eating habits when faced with positive or negative emotions. Stressful situations affect blood sugar levels. A change of eating routines, eating more often, or skipping meals can really influence the numbers on the glucose meter.
Diabetes is a whole body disease even at Christmastime. Few people are aware of the relationship between food and mood and blood sugars. Meal timing and carb counting, and exercise and stress make a difference.
One woman whispered a secret to me. She said in a hushed voice, “I used to love Christmas before I learned that I had diabetes.”
To her Christmas is all about cakes, cookies, pies, turkey, stuffing, fudge and candy canes. Boxes of chocolates and rich desserts are a few of her favorite things.
These treats can still be enjoyed with mindfulness. Instead of overindulging and mindlessly munching on mountains of sugarplums, awareness and control is the secret of controlled blood sugars during the holidays.
A Christmas with diabetes can take on a different meaning. It does not always have to revolve around food. There are songs to be sung; trees to decorate; gifts to give and receive. Cards to send and people to celebrate.
The gift of healthy living is a present that a person can give to themselves. There are many unwanted complications of uncontrolled blood sugars that can be avoided when the focus of the holidays shifts away from food.
At gatherings chose smaller portions. Eat treats with fingers, not by handfuls. Never sit longer than 30 minutes at a time, walk around, and move your muscles to control blood sugars.
Diabetic medications never take a holiday. Feeling good while celebrating requires a delicate balance in the body. Medications and glucose meter strips are affected by very cold and very warm temperatures. Protect them.
Diabetes and other chronic diseases take a toll on the mind, body and spirit. Being grateful is a feeling while thankfulness is an act. Practice both to control anxiety and stress. Appreciate your own efforts to control this disease. Diabetes is not for sissies.
The angels said on the first Christmas, “Do not fear.” In other words, do not be anxious and stressed out. Enjoy the holiday.
Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a Diabetes Self-Management Training Program at Dunlap Community Hospital, Orrville, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected]