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Managing Diabetes During the Holidays

For the 24 million people living with diabetes in the United States, traditional holiday fare, increased stress, travel and cold weather can pose some of the greatest challenges to diabetes testing regimens and nutrition.

Diabetic Care Services, a leading mail order provider of diabetes supplies and prescriptions, has partnered with Kent State University’s nutrition department to offer diabetes testing and nutrition tips for maintaining effective diabetes self-management when the holidays – and their biggest distractions – are in full swing.


Marc Wolf – a registered pharmacist with more than 28 years of experience serving patients with diabetes and founder and CEO of Diabetic Care Services – provides tips on helping manage diabetes during holiday travel.

  • Set aside time to exercise and remember to bring your workout cloths if you are traveling during the holidays. It can help reduce stress, help control blood glucose levels and help boost your immune system.
  • Access to proper meals at usual times may be limited while traveling or attending holiday celebrations, making it difficult to follow a normal nutrition regimen. Always travel with snacks in pre-measured serving sizes just in case. Glucerna and Extend both make travel bars for people with diabetes.
  • Continuing to monitor blood glucose on a regular schedule is imperative. When traveling across time zones, carry a second watch or clock set to your home time for the first few days until you adjust to the new schedule.
  • Always bring extra diabetes supplies. It is a good idea to test more often when traveling because routines will inevitably be disrupted.
  • If an insulin injection will be needed on an airplane, contact your insulin manufacturer for any special instructions to accommodate the pressure inside the plane.
  • Always carry or wear medical identification that indicates you have diabetes.
  • Travel with an extra set of supplies stored in a separate carrying case so there is a backup if the first set is damaged. Never use test strips stored in cracked or damaged bottles. When flying, pack supplies and medications in carry-on luggage to avoid having them damaged or exposed to extreme temperatures in the plane’s cargo hold.
  • Be sure to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep to help reduce your immune system from getting run down during the stressful holiday season.


    Jodie Luidhardt, a licensed and registered dietitian at Kent State University, provides nutrition tips for navigating the buffet table during the holidays.

  • Focus on piling your plate with colorful vegetables rather than white refined carbohydrates, like bread, chips, or pasta. But beware of popular holiday casseroles, which may contain flour, butter and extra calories. Instead, season green beans, corn or broccoli with parsley, tarragon or dill and pepper. For an added twist, drizzle vegetables with canola oil and roast in the oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Always choose whole grains when possible. One simple nutrition tip is to substitute white dinner rolls for healthier, 100% whole-wheat rolls at holiday meals.
  • Because carbohydrates are often top of mind for people with diabetes, it is easy to overcompensate with extra servings of protein. But eating too much red meat can lead to heart disease. Rather than a roast, ribs or steak, opt for chicken, turkey, ham, pork or fish.
  • Research indicates that people with diabetes who have a higher intake of soy protein have a lower risk of kidney failure. To include more soy in your holiday diet, opt for tofu or add edamame to salads.
  • If you feel like indulging or do not have access to a healthier option - compensate. For example, use a small plate when selecting favorite holiday desserts, or opt for fresh fruit.
  • Take your time and socialize while you are eating. It removes the focus from the food and allows you to get fuller faster and consume fewer calories.
  • Monitor your blood glucose levels often at holiday parties and adjust your eating, drinking and insulin accordingly.
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