If you can live with an elf on the shelf for a month you can manage the holidays with diabetes

diabetes management over the holidays

Do you have an elf in your house? Is there a little creature living with you who gets up to nightly shenanigans and watches your every move? I am here to tell you that if you can live with an elf on the shelf for a month, you can manage diabetes over the holidays!

Seriously.  That little guy brings a lot of pressure to a family…and so does diabetes but you’ve got this.  Here are a few tips that are going to help you find your way.

WAG it

Wild a$$ guess when need be! If you don’t have your scale or your measuring cup around.  If you aren’t 100% sure on what exactly is in that food item, wing it! Chances are that you know more about carb counting than you think and you will probably do fine.

You can also ask Google or download a calories counting app like the Calorie King or My Fitness Pal.  These are great tools when you are completely out of your element.


If you have a child with diabetes who would love to graze their way through the holidays, give it a try! To help with your own sanity however, I would suggest that you pre-bolus before you set them loose.  Ask them what they plan to eat, set it all on a small plate and then bolus for as much as you are certain they will eat.  (This can be done on injections or a pump)  Give them the insulin that will cover at least half of the food (or all if you know that they are good eaters).  Remember that they will most likely be excited and active so its okay to inject a bit less rather than more.

Check…a lot or use a CGM

To help survive the holidays with diabetes, make sure that you are checking your blood glucose levels every two hours when you are at events or gatherings with a lot of food and/or excitement.  If you have a CGM, make sure it is calibrated properly and close by.

Put one person in charge

To avoid parents double bolusing or giving extra insulin, make one person in charge of an event.  The other parent can relax and simply enjoy the event.

Schedules will be thrown out the window. Adapt

Chances are very high that all of your careful scheduling will go out the window over the holidays.  Concerts will run late.  Dinners won’t be on time.  Chaos will reign supreme.  That’s okay.  This is only for a very short time.  Learn how your insulin works and do you best.

Do your best

That last line was worth repeating.  Your best is all that you can do.  If you child survives and has fun, you are a complete success!! It is that simple.

The holidays are a time to create wonderful, loving memories.  Don’t spend them wrapped up in readings and insulin.  Test every couple of hours, watch for adrenaline crashes and find time to breathe.

It will all be worth it!

Happy Holidays!

Handling Diabetes and the Holidays

We are heading into the holiday season!  Soon we will be facing holiday parties and family dinners filled with memories and so much food! When living with diabetes, all of that food can trigger a great deal of anxiety and stress.  As a parent of a child with diabetes, food and excitement can create the most ugly roller-coaster of blood glucose readings.  So how do you make the holidays a memorable time without experiencing the nightmares of highs and lows?

You can let your child eat, play, be merry and deal with the messy blood glucose levels or you can try some of these options….

  1. Have a plan!  I have always been a firm believer in allowing my son to be a child first and a child with diabetes second.  This could sometimes be easier said than done as we watch and panic. Pushing down the panic and moving forward with wag carb (wild @s$ guess) counts helped to make things much more enjoyable for my son.
  2. Integrated Diabetes’ November blog offers a lot of great advice on how to wade through the many holiday dishes that will cross your path.  One great tip is to bring some of your own food. By having a few of your own dishes at events, you will already know the carb count and know how it impacts blood glucose levels.
  3. Remember a few of the standards that will be served–15g CHO for a half cup of potatoes, 25g CHO tends to cover a lot of cookies, 20g for a small apple, and so on.  We often have the same food again and again so try to relax a bit.  Think back to some of carb counts you have used before and see if they will fit any of the food choices that you are looking at.
  4. Test a lot.  If you make an error on your carb guesses testing will catch those rises or drops ideally before they become too stressful.
  5. If you are using an insulin pump, make sure that you use pump features such as combination boluses and extended boluses to help manage high fat meals and grazing.
  6. Finally, remember to enjoy the occasion! Food is lovely…and tasty, but this is a time to make memories and cherish the time spent with good friends and family.  Remember to make that your focus and make diabetes take a backseat as much as you can.