Navigating Your First Holiday Season After Diagnosis


With the festive season already here, you might feel a mix of excitement and overwhelm if this is your first holiday season after being diagnosed. You’re probably excited for your favorite traditions, yet might also feel nervous about what to do if people ask you questions or whether or not you can eat your favorite foods. Fortunately, there are some tried and true ways to navigate your first holiday season after diagnosis!

How to respond to questions

Since being diagnosed, you’ve likely had people ask questions about your diabetes. They probably want to know more because they care about you, but sometimes questions can feel invasive. For example, if someone asks you if you’re sure you can eat a certain food, you might feel as if they’re crossing a line. After all, you know what you can eat! 

Here are a few ways to respond to questions people ask during the holidays (and beyond):

  • Take a breath and remember they are likely asking the question because they care, not because they’re being judgemental.
  • Respond in a way that feels good for you. This might look like giving a detailed explanation or maybe keeping it short and telling them you’ve got it handled.
  • If someone seems genuinely curious about your diabetes, tell them about reliable resources they can use to learn more

Keep in mind that there’s no right way to respond to questions. You’re allowed to step away if questions feel overwhelming. Make sure to do what works for you!

Eating during the holidays

Undoubtedly, eating at the holidays is one of the most stressful parts of this time of year. There are special foods available that you love, but you might feel you need to avoid them altogether. Luckily, this isn’t necessary; there are ways to eat your favorite foods without cutting them out completely!

Try these tips to help stabilize your blood glucose levels (BGLs) while enjoying your favorite foods:

  • Pair carb-containing foods with those that have protein and fat, which will help slow down digestion, decreasing the likelihood of your BGLs spiking.
  • Similarly, eat dessert with your meal so the protein and fat from your other foods can slow down the digestion of your sweet treat.
  • Stay hydrated, as BGLs can increase if you’re dehydrated.
  • Limit your alcohol intake, as it can cause hypoglycemia
  • If you feel like you need to bring your BGLs down, try going for a post-dinner family walk.

While you might still be figuring out how to adjust your medications, especially if you’re on insulin, you can use our holiday carb cheat sheets to help!

Since you’re still figuring out how your body responds to foods with diabetes, it’s okay if your BGLs are a little high during the holidays. Remember that this is a day or two out of the year—try to still enjoy it without the guilt.  

Stick to your routine

The holiday season is a busy time, but it’s important to keep up with your typical routine where you can. Parts of your routine to continue during the holidays include:

  • Sleeping seven or more hours per night
  • Moving your body regularly 
  • Taking your medications as scheduled/prescribed

Following your routine will bring a sense of normalcy to this time of year while also benefiting your health!

Try a continuous glucose monitor (CGM)

Being able to make decisions based on data can be a game-changer when it comes to diabetes management. Using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), which tracks your BGLs continuously, allows you to understand how different factors impact your BGLs. This wearable device also makes it possible to catch and treat high or low BGLs earlier. 

Other benefits of CGMs include: 

  • Having access to your BGL data without pricking your finger
  • Being able to share your data with your healthcare team using the app on your phone
  • Having the ability to review your data anytime using graphs and reports

Talk to your doctor about trying a CGM before the holidays so you can get help with setup and wearing it ahead of time. 

You got this!

The holiday season is meant to be fun and you can still enjoy it even as you navigate diabetes for the first time! Responding to questions in a way that’s right for you, making sure to stay hydrated, sticking to your normal routine and using tools like a CGM can all help you manage your diabetes this holiday season. With time you’ll learn to navigate each holiday season with diabetes like a pro!

And if you’re looking for support from others who also have diabetes, consider joining the Beyond Type 1 Community

Editor’s Note: Educational content for newly diagnosed people with diabetes is made possible with support from Abbott, makers of the Freestyle Libre 3 system, an active partner of Beyond Type 1 at the time of publication. Editorial control rests solely with Beyond Type 1.

WRITTEN BY Kourtney Johnson, POSTED 11/09/23, UPDATED 11/09/23

Kourtney is a registered dietitian living with type 1 diabetes. She was inspired to study nutrition after learning about the role food plays in managing this condition. When she's not writing about all things food and diabetes-related, she enjoys reading, cooking, traveling, going to the beach and spending time with loved ones.