One of the biggest problems one can face over the holiday season is properly calculating one’s carbohydrate intake. And this stands to reason, considering one tends to consume homemade meals and baked goods, alcohol and desserts. This can make it a bit more of a guessing game when it comes to determining how much insulin to take and trying to avoid the unfortunate ups and downs that can accompany a miscalculation. And once you’re on that unfortunate roller coaster, it can take quite a while before you can get off…
When you buy something at the store, you get the benefit of the nutrition label on the back of the packaging that tells you how many grams of carbs that are “expected” to be in a piece of whatever you’re eating. I say “expected” and put it in quotations because it’s always a bit of a crapshoot, even when they list it. For example, I have a very nice frozen pastry I buy that’s spinach and feta-filled. But if I bolus for the amount of carbs it says for the amount I eat, I bottom out faster than you can say hypoglycaemia. With homemade foods like stuffing, mashed potatoes, pies and desserts, the guessing game can quickly become a game of Diabetic Russian roulette.
The difference between the holidays and the average meal is that the average meal is, well… one meal. once it’s said and done, even if you fucked with your blood sugar levels a bit, you get to adjust and correct and you’re likely fine over the short term. During the holidays, we’re usually talking several meals over a few days, mixed with alcohol and sugary products that one might not partake of during an “average” meal. So if you don’t bolus enough or have carbs in your system that act faster than your insulin, you may be compelled to correct sooner than you should to bring yourself back to normal, which is followed by the insulin you ACTUALLY bolused for the meal kicking in and causing you to bottom out.
Perhaps you wolf down more jelly beans than you should, because it’s 2 o’clock in the morning and you just want to go back to sleep, which causes you to slingshot too high again. Wash, rinse and repeat… I’m speaking from experience here, folks. Recent experience, in fact. I spent a good portion of the Christmas holiday playing yo-yo with my blood sugars and the result was a level of exhaustion that made it so that it was anything but a holiday for me. of course, I could have stemmed a lot of that by avoiding the beer and homemade desserts I consumed. But what’s the point of modern medicine and wearing an insulin pump if I can’t eat at least SOMEWHAT like a normal person once in a while?
The important thing to remember is to keep yourself hydrated, both because of the potential alcohol and all the food and blood sugar fluctuations. Don’t be afraid to check your blood sugars often but also be mindful that some foods will require some time to catch up and your insulin may require some time, as well. Your endocrinologist can discuss these aspects with you to prevent your repeat visits on the blood sugar roller coaster. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed and you should be able to enjoy them along with anyone else in the family. It may require a few added steps on your part but doing so will ensure that you don’t find yourself in a compromised position during your celebrations. Enjoy! ☯️