Tips for managing and preventing diabetes during the holiday season

By the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan

MICHIGAN — The holiday season can be a difficult time for managing and preventing diabetes — holiday gatherings, football playoffs and other celebrations make it hard to stick to a healthy diet because of all the unhealthy foods that are readily available. The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) is providing tips to help people with and at risk for diabetes maintain a healthy lifestyle during the holidays.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, causing over 40 percent of all kidney failure cases. The good news is that type 2 diabetes can be both managed and prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Losing even a small amount of weight can help you prevent diabetes. Whether you have diabetes or you are at risk for developing it, getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days a week, and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as other foods low in fat can have a significant impact on your overall health.

Honey-glazed ham and buttery mashed potatoes are popular for festive dinners, while chicken wings and pizza are among the favorites at football playoffs and other gatherings with friends. Along with these possible setbacks, the busyness of the holiday season can make it seem impossible to find time for physical activity. There are, however, some small ways to make healthy food choices that can help you stay on track with reaching your goals.

  • Before attending a party, eat a healthy snack to avoid the less healthy options that may be available.
  • Check out the party food options and make a plan of what you will eat and how much.
  • Bring a healthy dish to share with family and friends at a holiday gathering.
  • Drink water instead of soda or juice.
  • Step away from the buffet while chatting to avoid grazing on finger foods.
  • When hosting your own holiday get-togethers, consider healthier alternatives for traditional dishes. Serve foods that are not fried; try these items grilled or baked. For dessert, serve fruit or low-fat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, cakes or brownies.

There are also ways that you can fit physical activity into a packed holiday schedule when you have little time to visit the gym. Try some of these small steps to add more physical activity into your life.

  • Park as far away as possible from stores while doing holiday shopping.
  • Powerwalk to different stores in the mall instead of driving to them.
  • Dance and participate in games instead of hanging around the food table at parties.
  • Volunteer to help set up for parties by moving tables or chairs and putting up decorations.

In the midst of the fun and festivities that are going on this month, make sure not to forget about the importance of managing your health. Though it’s easy to leave diabetes management and prevention out in the cold this holiday season, remember that the best gift you can give your friends and family is a healthier you.

For more information on managing and preventing diabetes, please contact the NKFM at or 800-482-1455. You can also find resources from the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) at