Ask Joan: Find the sweet alternatives this holiday season
November 27, 2023

Q: I’ve been living with diabetes for many years and find I tend to struggle during the holidays. I want to celebrate with loved ones but also stay on track with managing my disease. Do you have any tips for what I can do?

A: The holidays bring lots of joy and festivities and can also be a challenging time for many of us. It’s particularly challenging when you have a health condition you want to continue to manage well. You are already taking a great first step: thinking about ways you can stay on track while still celebrating with loved ones.

Joan Hatem-Roy, CEO of AgeSpan

November is National Diabetes Month, and while there are extra treats this time of year, the American Diabetes Association says you can enjoy the flavors of the season while keeping your blood sugar in check.

Here are some tips from the ADA:

Plan your plate: Before heading to holiday gatherings, take a moment to plan your meals. Load up on veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains for a balanced plate.

Sweet alternatives: When it comes to dessert, consider sugar-free or low-sugar options. You’ll be surprised at how delicious they can be.

Staying active: During the holidays, exercise is crucial for managing your diabetes. Put on your favorite holiday music and have a dance party with your loved ones. It’s not just fun but a good way to get moving. After a holiday meal, suggest a walk. It can be a time to bond while helping with digestion and blood sugar control.

Self-care: Don’t forget to take moments for yourself amid the holiday hustle. Deep breathing, meditation, or a quiet moment with a good book can help reduce stress.

Connect with others: Remember, you’re not alone on this journey. Connect with others living with diabetes, join support groups, and share your experiences. It’s comforting and empowering.

Our agency has programs designed to support you in your diabetes management journey. For example, we offer nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian who can advise and set nutrition goals.

Our Healthy Living Center of Excellence’s Diabetes Self-Management Program is highly successful in educating and supporting people with diabetes in making wise changes in their lives. It’s offered online

The holidays are about celebrating, creating memories, and cherishing moments with your loved ones. Diabetes doesn’t have to stand in your way. By planning your meals, staying active, and managing stress with care, you can have a holiday season filled with warmth, love, and the joy of living life to the fullest.

Remember, there’s a caring community and a wealth of resources available. So, here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season. You’re in good company.

Are you caring for an older adult or need help locating healthy aging resources? Our experienced staff is available to help. Visit us online at for more information. You can also call us at 800-892-0890 or email Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of AgeSpan.  

First published in the Eagle-Tribune

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