3 Tips to avoid a bloated, hung-over, sugar-coma holiday

December 12th 2015

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3 Tips to avoid a bloated, hung-over, sugar-coma holiday

I absolutely love the holiday season! I love getting to spend time with family and friends, and yes, I do love holiday treats as well! Finding a balance between enjoying your holiday treats, and not coming out of a food coma in January feeling bloated, tired and 10 pounds heavier is not only possible – it’s easier than you might think.

Almost two years ago I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Basically my immune system attacked the beta cells in my pancreas and now my body no longer produces its own insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible for transporting the glucose from the foods we eat, out of our bloodstream and into our cells where it can be used for energy. Since I no longer make insulin, I need to know in advance how many carbohydrates I am about to eat, and then inject the appropriate amount of insulin into myself with a needle- what fun!

Unlike type 2 diabetes which can often be reversed when people commit to more healthy lifestyle choices, there is nothing that can be done to prevent type 1, and it never goes away. Diabetics of both types need to be dedicated to making smart nutrition choices in order to prevent all sorts of awful complications that can come as a result of letting our blood glucose levels get out of control. Sugary treats and refined carbohydrates like breads and baked goods are things that will create the biggest spikes in blood glucose, so these are things we have to be very careful about eating.

Which brings me back to our topic of holiday treats… You see, that first Christmas after my diagnosis, I knew I was going to have to have a game plan for keeping myself healthy while still being able to enjoy a few indulgences. I remember sitting down with my family and talking about what treats were really important to me – the things that if I didn’t have, it just wouldn’t feel like Christmas. And you know what?! The list was actually pretty small! Turns out there are only a handful of things I really want to have: my Mom’s cinnamon pull-apart bread we eat on Christmas morning, Caleb’s favorite almond flavored cookies, and Candy Cane cookies that either my Dad or I make on New Year’s Eve.

Here’s the good news for you – you can do it too! And unless you are also type 1, you get to do it without all the yucky needles. So, here are my 3 Tips to avoid a bloated, hung-over, sugar-coma holiday:

Tip #1 – “Essential Treat List” – Sit down, take a few minutes and think about the treats that you really look forward to. I find writing it down is even more powerful, so make a list. You will probably find, like me, that the list of things you really care about is not as big as you think. If you have a list of more than 5 or 6 things you “have” to have, you might need to spend a bit more time considering what is really essential. The interesting thing I noticed when I made my list, is that the “essentials” for me all have personal connections to people I love. Those treats mean something that a random donut or bagel brought into the office by a client or co-worker could never mean.

Tip #2 – “Party List” – In addition to making your treat list, look at your calendar and all the holiday events you have coming up. With the crazy schedules we all keep these days you may have quite a few. Now go through and find the ones that you are really looking forward to – the ones where you will be celebrating with your closest loved ones. These events can go on a separate “Party List”. These are the times you are planning to enjoy your mashed potatoes and dessert. Many of us have holiday events that are more business related, so those can probably don’t need to be on your “Party” list… after all, stuffing your face with cake and getting sloshed is probably best left for non-business settings.

Tip #3 – “Pause Button” – The only really trick in making your lists is that they only work if you stick to them. Now of course, there should be some spontaneity in life, and I hope you find yourself having some impromptu holiday shenanigans with your friends and family! This is where you need a “pause button” to give yourself a minute to confirm that whatever you are about to do isn’t something you are only going to regret or feel guilty about later. There’s no fun in that! I have a built in “pause button” by having to stop and ask myself it what I am about to eat is really worth having to get out the insulin and stab myself with a needle. Find something that will work for you as a “pause button” (or you can always imagine mine – blech) so that you have a second to think about whether what you are about to eat is something you really, truly, actually want.

Even if making lists isn’t your thing, the bottom line is to keep your head in the game and be mindful. Let what you eat be a choice you have made, rather than absent-minded grazing or someone else guilting you into eating something (misery loves company). Not only should you experience less over-indulging, but you are likely to be much happier too, by choosing foods and situations that really mean something to you, and letting go of things that don’t.

Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!


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