6 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain with Diabetes


Jennifer Larson

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Ah, the holidays—the season of friends, family, frivolity, and food. And although your guests will eventually return home, the pounds you gain from too much pie will stick around well past New Year’s Day. According to the 2013 National Health Assessment, people who expect to gain weight over the holidays tend to already be overweight or obese. This year, make a pre-New Year’s resolution: resolve to break that pattern.

Obesity describes people who have a body mass index (BMI) above 30. People who are obese are at high risk for developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease, and those few extra pounds can raise that risk even more. And being obese can increase your body’s insulin resistance—that is, your body isn’t able to use insulin as effectively as it could. That’s why maintaining a healthy weight is so important for everyone, especially people with diabetes.

Even so, it can be hard to say no to Aunt Jane’s famous pumpkin pie. But preventing holiday weight gain is not an impossible feat—and it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the festivities. Set a realistic goal for yourself with specific steps for how to achieve that goal. Come January, you’ll be happy to already be on the path to better health.

Watch what you eat

As a person with diabetes, you probably already monitor your diet pretty closely. But during the holidays, extra food is everywhere you look. It’s all too easy to snack on a handful of candies here, a piece of pie there, without realizing until it’s too late just how many extra calories you’ve consumed. Be deliberate instead of absent-minded! If you make good choices about what to eat, you won’t have to regret it later.

Host your own party

If you throw your own holiday shindig, you get to decide what’s on the menu. If you’re in control of the food that’s being served, you won’t have to guess if the cranberry sauce has as much sugar and calories as you fear it might. You can ensure that all the culinary options are healthy—and the leftovers will be, too.

Splurge carefully

No one really expects you to completely abstain from all the delicious holiday food. You just need to decide in advance which treat you are going to splurge on. Maybe it’s Aunt Jane’s pumpkin pie or your neighbor’s amazing decadent eggnog. Pick your favorite, and savor every bit of it so you don’t just mindlessly move onto the next treat.


When you exercise, you might not have to cut back quite as much on what you eat. But if you’re thinking about your already jam-packed holiday season schedule with despair and wondering when you’re supposed to exercise, don’t fret. You can schedule a workout at any time that works for you, or you can even break it down into 10-minute increments and spread it out throughout your day.

Drink only in moderation

Looking forward to a glass of some bubbly to celebrate the holidays? Just plan to eat something beforehand, and don’t throw caution to the wind after one glass. Alcoholic beverages contain more calories than you might realize. The American Diabetes Association especially cautions you to watch out for those high-calorie mixers, like juices or colas.

Prepare for the New Year

Despite your best intentions, it’s possible that you’ll gain a few pounds anyway. It’s not too early to think about shedding a few pounds in the New Year. The American Diabetes Association suggests setting a weight loss goal of half a pound to 2 pounds per week, which would mean you’d need to eat about 250 to 1,000 fewer calories daily. But before you launch into a weight loss plan, talk to your doctor first—especially if you’re taking insulin or other medicines to help control your diabetes.


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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Nov 21, 2017

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  8. Health Risks of Being Overweight. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/health-risks-overweight
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