If you’re one of the 100 million people in the US with diabetes or pre-diabetes, the holidays can be even more stressful. In addition to dealing with hectic schedules and frantic family members, those with diabetes have to always be on guard when attending cocktail mixers and dinner parties throughout the season. Because while everyone loves a good fancy fig cocktail or handful of Christmas cookies now and then, those occasional indulgences could wreak havoc if you’re watching your blood sugar. But you *can* arm yourself so it’s easier to navigate your way through all those holiday get-togethers. These five tips from Dr. Lesley Rennis, Chair of the Borough of Manhattan Community College Health Education Department, will help you feel full, satisfied, and healthy, so you can focus on spending time with your loved ones and having fun instead of fretting over your diet.

1. Eat before you go

The easiest way to resist those decadent holiday dishes? Eat before you go to parties. Once there, you can sensibly try small portions of the healthier items available, without feeling a ravenous hunger that would cause you to overindulge.

2. Bring your own dish

Offer to bring a healthy, diabetic-friendly side dish to dinner parties. Not only will it be a help to your host, but it will also ensure that you have something you can eat without worrying about your blood sugar.

3. Focus on fiber and protein

Though it’s totally tempting to dig into those creamy casseroles and candied sweet potatoes, focus on simply prepared whole foods instead. Low-carb, fiber-rich veggies, whether roasted, steamed, or boiled, are a wise choice. (Just make sure they’re not slathered in too much butter or salt.) You can also help yourself to the main protein, especially if it’s turkey, chicken, or fish; lean pork and beef can be consumed in moderation too. Sticking with these fiber and protein-filled dishes will keep you feeling full.

4. Exercise in the morning

Studies show that morning exercise can help regulate your appetite throughout the day, so try to wake up in time to go for a brisk walk or do at least 30 minutes of exercise before your day of festivities begins.

5. Drink water

Feeling thirsty? Stick with water. Alcohol, soda, and other high-calorie beverages are loaded with sugar and pretty much devoid of nutrients, and can cause your blood sugar to spike dangerously.

If you take these tips to heart, the holidays will be a lot less stressful (and healthier) this year.

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