The holidays can fill us with joy as we take pleasure in sharing good times with family and friends. Thing is, unless you come from a long line of nutritionists or have a ton of health-nut friends, holiday celebrations tend to involve heaps of delicious but ridiculously creamy, rich, and sugar-loaded foods. If you live with diabetes, don’t let the disease spoil your festive season. Instead, respond with a yes to your party invites, then plan accordingly.

Party Prep

We’re not talking hanging lights, here. Instead, prepare for bombardment by food temptations by eating healthy snacks (carrots, apples, kiwis, tangerines, unsalted peanuts or almonds) 20 minutes before the party and having well balanced meals throughout the day. Showing up to a shindig hungry makes caving into cravings and overindulging way too easy and is a lot like going grocery shopping hungry, if you catch our drift. Stash healthy nuts and seeds in your bag as go-to healthy reinforcements should the buffet-table options be over-the-top.

Count Carbs

If you’re comfortable with the host, ask what food will be served. Then you’ll know if and how it fits into your meal plan. Ideally, even on a holiday-party day you want to consume the same amount of carbs you normally would, recommends the American Diabetes Association. When fixing your plate, remember, if you’re planning to indulge on dessert then ease back on carbs in appetizers, main dishes, and even beverages (choose lower-cal sparkling water and unsweetened tea over rich eggnog). Eat slowly and savor each bite while keeping an eye on portion size and resisting the urge to have seconds. Monitor your blood-sugar regularly, ensuring it is safely between 100 and 140 mg/dL. Consider offering to pitch in and bring a diabetes-friendly dish to the event that is low-sugar and low-fat.

Amp Up Exercise

December is dark and cold in many areas and, with holiday madness brewing, it’s exceedingly easy to ditch exercise. Instead, actively schedule time daily for exercise and make it as routine as showering.  Not only can this counteract holiday-party splurging and keep any accidental over-indulgences guilt-free, but regular workouts also reduce stress and keep you invigorated, intentional, and focused. Don’t overthink or over-complicate exercise: you don’t need a gym membership. Squeezing in a sweat session is as easy as bundling up in layers, lacing up, and taking a brisk arm-swinging morning walk. Might we recommend the Beyonce channel on your Pandora.

Find more insightful tips for holiday-party survival with diabetes here:

What’s Your biggest holiday-party temptation?