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Managing Diabetes During the Holiday Season

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  • Written By: St. John's Health
Managing Diabetes During the Holiday Season

Having a Healthy Thanksgiving with Diabetes

With the holiday season coming around the bend, you may find yourself thinking of your favorite festive activities, gathering, and fall sweets and treats—but what about supporting your health? For those living with diabetes, this time of year may take a little more effort to make sure they’re looking after their health while indulging in the season’s festivities.

In light of National Diabetes Month, the health experts at St. John's Health outline some ways that you can have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving while managing this chronic health condition.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition where the body is either unable to produce insulin or properly use the insulin being produced. When your body isn’t getting enough insulin, your blood sugar levels will rise. If your blood sugar levels are too high for an extended period of time, it can lead to extensive damage throughout the body including organ failure.

Different Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

With type 1 diabetes, the body has trouble producing its own insulin, sometimes producing none at all. Typically, this type of diabetes is found in children and young adults, although you can be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at any age.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, making up about 90% of cases in adults. With this type of diabetes, it is usually brought on by leading an unhealthy and inactive lifestyle.


The following factors increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes:

  • Having prediabetes.
  • Being overweight.
  • Being over the age of 45.
  • Not getting enough exercise.
  • Having had gestational diabetes.
  • Eating a diet high in saturated fats, added sugars, and sodium.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a form of diabetes that happens when the body’s blood glucose levels increase dramatically during pregnancy, which can be harmful for both the mother and the baby. It is important to note that this condition subsides shortly after the expectant mother gives birth.

Eat Just Enough for You

During Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season, there are plenty of food-centric activities. Following these tips can help you to avoid overeating and keeping your blood glucose in target range.

How Overeating Harms Your Body

While many people find themselves eating food until they become painfully full, overeating too often can begin to wreak havoc on your health especially living with diabetes This is because eating in excess can lead to hyperglycemia, which is high blood sugar. When your blood sugar levels are high for a prolonged period of time, it can cause extensive damage throughout the body


When you overeat, you’re at an increases risk of the following health issues and side effects when you’re already living with diabetes:

  • Becoming overweight or obese
  • High blood pressure
  • Damage to the blood vessels
  • Heart disease
  • Nerve issues
  • Issues with your vision
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Excessive gas
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

Understanding Portion Sizes

Knowing how much of each food group you should each day is a key part of building and maintaining a balanced diet. It is advised that you aim to eat these amounts of the following major food groups each day:

  • Vegetables: 3 to 5 cups.
  • Fruits: 1.5 to 2 cups.
  • Whole grains: 5 to 8 ounces.
  • Protein: 3 to 6 ounces.
  • Oils and fats: 5 to 7 teaspoons.

Preventing Overeating During Meals

While you may have a better idea about how much of each food group you should be working into your diet, you aren’t expected to pull out a measuring cup at every meal. Follow some of these tips and tricks to help you measure out your serving sizes:

  • Your closed fist is about the size of one cup.
  • The palm of your hand is roughly the size of 3 to 4 ounces of meat.
  • Your thumb is about the size of an ounce.
  • A half-cup of fruits or vegetables is about the size of a tennis ball.

Stay Active Throughout the Season

Staying physically active is an important way to look after your overall health—especially when living with diabetes. Whether you’re an elite-level athlete or you just want to support your health, everyone can reap the benefits of leading a more active lifestyle.


Some health benefits of staying physically active include but are not limited to:

  • Reducing stress levels.
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Improved brain function.
  • Manage your blood sugar levels.

Staying active can reduce your risk of developing the following health issues:

  • Hyperglycemia
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis
  • Obesity
  • Certain types of cancer, including cancer of the bladder, breast, and colon.

Fall Activities to Get Your Heart Pumping

Although the chilly weather may tempt you to stay cozied up indoors, there are actually plenty of fall-appropriate activities that can get you up and active outside. Try incorporating some of these family-friendly activities into your routine throughout the holidays.

  • Running or jogging
  • Hiking trails
  • Bike-riding
  • Pumpkin picking
  • x-country skiing
  • snowshoeing

Primary Care in Jackson, Wilson, and Teton County

From family medicine to internal medicine, our Primary Care Providers (PCP) are here to openly listen to your concerns and work with you to achieve overall better health and wellness. Visit our website to see the types of primary care we provide or to find a doctor, today!


You can also call our Diabetes & Nutrition educators, who can help answer your questions and navigate establishing care with a provider if you don’t already have one.