Thanksgiving with a Side of Diabetes

Speaking as a regular person, I love the holidays. I love spending time with family, the lights, the music, the decorations- November and December are my favorite months of the year.

As a person with diabetes, I like the holidays a little less. I am extremely wary of any food that is starchy, fatty, or is something I have not prepared myself and don’t have nutrition info for. These kinds of foods are abundant during the holiday season, and it’s nearly impossible to keep blood sugars in a normal range while also eating what you want to. Thanksgiving can be especially stressful when trying to balance diabetes with celebrating the holiday like someone with a functioning pancreas. In my opinion, though, this is one of those days where it’s okay to let things slide a little bit! I think my control may have slid a little too much this past Thanksgiving though…

I started off the day around 180. Which quickly climbed to 260. I’m still trying to find the right basal pattern to combat the rise I see every morning after I wake up, but the added caffeine from my newfound love of coffee is making this a lot worse (I think a switch to decaf is in the cards). I ended up over compensating for the high (note to self: don’t correct 3 times in 2 hours) and had dropped to 46 by the time I arrived at my cousins’ house. So naturally I tore into the appetizers (and some orange juice) like my life depended on it- which it sort of did.

Unfortunately, I didn’t keep very close track of what I was eating, and didn’t remember that my blood sugar usually rises slowly after a low. By the time we ate, my blood sugar was in the low 100s but rising. Add in all the sugary/starchy side dishes and…you get the picture. Once the desserts were put out, I was steady at 300. Which meant no dessert for me! Thankfully after some aggressive correcting, I dropped to 120 and stayed there until the next morning. WIN!

So my blood sugar yo-yoed all day. It doesn’t happen every day, and neither does Thanksgiving. I spent a wonderful afternoon with my extended family, and didn’t obsess (too much) over my diabetes. I know there will be many instances during the next few weeks when I will have to decide whether to eat something REALLY yummy looking and have to deal with “the yo-yo” for the next twelve hours, or pass it up and play it safe. And it’s okay to choose the yo-yo sometimes! If that triple chocolate cake or apple pie is something you love and look forward to every year, and you’re prepared for your blood sugar to be a little wild, go for it! (Just don’t do it every day, but I think that goes without saying.)

For me, dessert is not worth the yo-yo- most of the time. I’m lucky, though, to have a mom who volunteers to bring a dessert for every holiday so that I’m not left out (trifle made with layers of brownie, cool whip, and bananas and strawberries. Blood sugar safe and delicious!). Thanks mom!

The moral of the story is, it’s okay to be okay with blood sugars that aren’t perfect sometimes, if it means you’re having fun and enjoying yourself. There’s no reason to stress yourself out over keeping your blood sugars in range on a holiday! Even if you’re trying to improve your A1C (like I am), one day isn’t going to undo your efforts. Enjoying your time with family and friends is much more valuable than stressing over your blood sugars.

And if you just so happen to end up with good blood sugars without trying? Then you, my friend, are a master, and I wish I had your skills.


Happy holidays!


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