The holiday season has officially begun — at least for families with type 1 diabetes. First comes Halloween, with candy abounding for the entire month of October. It’s not just the one night of trick-or-treating anymore! Candy is everywhere: at the bank, in the classroom, at sports and church activities, you name it… those mini chocolate bars mock me at every turn! Then we’ve got Thanksgiving, with the beautiful meal followed by sampling literally every flavor of pie. (Banana cream, anyone? My favorite!)

This month also begins the season of cold weather and comfort food. There’s nothing better than having your oven full of cookies, or cinnamon rolls warming your kitchen on a cold, rainy day. If that wasn’t enough, we have another full month of Christmas festivities — cookie decorating, holiday treat drop-offs, Christmas parties. Just about every day of December has some sort of holiday-themed something involving food. The days are shorter too, which makes it hard to stay active.

I’ve noticed that not only do I fall off the healthy eating bandwagon and gain a few pounds every fall, but Kaitlyn’s A1C results are usually highest around this time of year as well. The holidays are a lot of fun, but I find myself almost wishing that January 1 were here, so that we can get back on track. But guess what? We don’t need to wait for New Year’s to set healthy goals!

Kaitlyn and I have been brainstorming how we can enjoy the holidays but still keep our eating and her type 1 diabetes management in control. Here are some ideas that we’ve come up with. [Disclaimer: These experiences and suggestions are not intended as medical advice. Please see full disclaimer below.]

  1. Have a Free Day.

We decided that we’re going to pick one day a week to indulge in all the high-carb, high-fat, sugary holiday treats (within reason), and on the other days we’ll say “No thank you” or save it for later. This way, we feel like we can still enjoy the festivities and food without completely going out of control. One so-so blood sugar day followed by six in-range days isn’t so bad. It’s at least better than seven roller-coaster days in a row.

  1. Save the Candy for Lows.

When the Halloween bags come home, we’re going to put them away, out of sight. No more sneaking candy and finding wrappers under the bed! We will pull them out when we have a free day or when Kaitlyn has a low and needs some sugar.

  1. Give Non-Food Gifts.

I love a cookie platter as much as anyone, but the nonstop treat swapping means nonstop treat eating! We’re going to focus on giving non-food items this year, so that at least we’re not contributing to the overall sugar overload.

  1. Focus on the Activity, Not the Food.

Eating is so much a part of our culture. It’s not just fuel for our bodies; it’s become so much more. It’s an experience! It’s a way to socialize, and it’s a form of entertainment. It’s a very difficult thing to do, but this holiday season, we’re going to try to take the focus away from the food and put more emphasis on the activity. It’s going to take some creativity, but the activity list is already forming!

  1. Find Ways to Stay Active.

With the days shorter and the weather cooler, this can be a challenge, but here are some of the things we want to do to stay active this holiday season: ice skating, hikes, bike rides, going to the snow (or for us here in California, maybe just the beach!), playing at the park, and trying out indoor gyms.

That’s our game plan! I hope you come up with a plan that works for you!

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

Related topics:
13 Halloween Ideas for T1D Families
Jen’s Quick Guide to Holidays With Type 1
People in the Know: Holiday Traditions vs. Stress

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