“Sleigh” your Blood Sugar this Holiday Season

December 14, 2022

It’s that time of year again! Families will be gathering to share meals, drinks, and laughs for the winter holidays. When you have T1D, you’re likely preparing yourself for the added difficulties of managing blood sugars (and stress levels). Here are our curated tips for sleighing your blood sugar management this holiday season!

Go to Gatherings with all your Diabetes Goodies

Being prepared is a cornerstone of diabetes management, and when you’re going to be out for long hours with family, ensuring you have all the insulin, test strips, and anything else you may need will allow you to have a more relaxed holiday experience. Make sure you have enough insulin in your pump cartridge to last through all your grandma’s carb-heavy sides and your uncle’s desserts so you can enjoy it as much as possible.

Here’s a quick checklist for before you walk out the door:

  • Full insulin cartridge, pen, or vial
  • Back-up for if your infusion set or pod falls off or fails
  • BG Meter and test strips – even if you use CGM, because what if it fails!?
  • Glucagon – although it’s unlikely that you’ll need it, you want to have it just in case (Oh, and make sure someone knows how to use it. It’s like when you take an umbrella and it doesn’t rain; luck favors the prepared.)
  • Low food – again, probably not necessary for holiday meals, but just in case

Mentally Prepare for Unwanted Questions

Whether it’s your grandpa, uncle, stepcousin, or someone’s new plus one, there’s usually at least one comment or question that is unsolicited and related to diabetes or health in general. Personally, I like to have someone on standby who I can text throughout the family gatherings where I typically get comments that are inappropriate (whether diabetes-related or not). This way if I feel that I need to talk about it without directly addressing it, I have a safe outlet. Here’s where having diabuddies, fiffles, or friends with diabetes can be incredibly helpful.

We have some great examples on how to handle diabetes-related questions in our article “Yes, I can eat that: Answering Diabetes Questions.” It’s completely up to you whether you want to respond to any unwanted comments or questions, or whether you want to let it go and change the subject. There have also been some great articles recently about weight and body shaming – including commenting on the food choices you make. This article gives examples of navigating conversations, and this one is specifically to help people who have struggled with disordered eating. The second article has an incredible quote that I think will be inspiring to you, as it was to me, “Remember: it’s a party, not prison,” and you can leave whenever you want.1

Remember the Big Picture When it Comes to BG’s

It’s impossible to maintain perfect blood sugars all the time, and the holidays are no exception. You’re likely trying different foods and indulging in foods you don’t make at home all the time. It’s part of the fun! Try not to feel frustrated when your time in range percentages go down for this temporary time frame. It’s important to have a good quality of life, and in the bigger picture, a couple of days or even a week is such a small blip in time.

Other Tools at your Disposal

Timing your insulin properly is important, and here are some different strategies that you can use:

Additionally, if you are adding alcohol into the mix, making sure you take that into consideration when dosing insulin is important. Sometimes it can be helpful in reducing post-meal spikes (just saying…).

Here’s to hoping your holidays are full of joy and flat CGM lines! Sleigh away, friends!


Written and clinically reviewed by Marissa Town, RN, BSN, CDCES