With a little planning, you’ll be able to manage holiday temptations while enjoying time with the people you love.

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The holiday season is supposed to be a joyous time spent with family and friends.

If you’re living with type 2 diabetes, it can feel like a trap with temptation around every corner, like:

  • the break room at work filled with holiday goodies
  • well-intentioned gifts of sugar-filled treats
  • extra meals out where the portions are huge and the drinks are flowing
  • shopping trips and eating on the run
  • parties with food spreads loaded with high-carb goodness

It’s important to recognize that we have choices over the holidays. We can choose to abandon our eating principles and blood sugar control and indulge in every eating opportunity, or we can be strategic and develop a plan to enjoy the holidays without missing out on social events and family time.

Here are some tips that help me turn the holidays from stressful to enjoyable.

When you’re at a party and approach the food line, step back and scan the table before grabbing your plate. Try to divide the dishes into categories: must-haves, want-to-tries, and “eh, no thanks.”

Make sure the must-haves are items you don’t normally have access to during other times of the year. I call them “the holiday exclusives.” Maybe it’s your grandmother’s stuffing or homemade cranberry sauce. For me, it’s the sweet potato casserole.

Foods like rolls, macaroni and cheese, and mashed potatoes that are available year-round are a “no thanks” in my book.

Scan the table, make your list, and plate your portions mindfully.

If you’re worried about going overboard, contribute your own dish to the food spread.

It’s OK to ask the host or hostess what will be offered so you can plan ahead. Bringing your own dish to share ensures you can fill your plate with a healthy, nutritious option and then add your must-haves and want-to-try foods to round out your plate.

A festive salad, a veggie plate with dip, or a fruit platter are great options.

Holiday cookies, chocolates, and other baked goods are popular gifts.

There’s no need to refuse these gestures. Allow yourself to enjoy and have a small portion. Then, decide what’s next!

You can freeze the goodies in individual servings or half servings, can give them away, or toss them. I promise you, no one is going to ask you where they went.

It’s tempting to make holiday parties and gatherings all about the food.

If you’re fighting temptations this season, try prioritizing the people over the food. Strike up a conversation with the cousin you haven’t seen in a while, help the hostess clean up or serve, or play a game with the kids at the party.

Avoid lingering in the room where the food spread is and move the conversation somewhere else.

Don’t be so hard on yourself: Treating yourself over the holidays does not make you a bad person or mean that you don’t care about your type 2 diabetes management. It makes you a human who enjoys delicious food!

Don’t dwell, shame yourself, or feel guilty about enjoying these once-a-year treats. When you do this, you don’t allow yourself to savor the indulgence, so why bother eating it in the first place?

When you make a choice to treat, embrace your choice, enjoy the moment, and move on guilt-free.

The holiday season can be overwhelming, but with a little planning, you’ll be able to manage the temptations and treat yourself mindfully while enjoying time with the people you love.

Mary Van Doorn lives in Georgia with her husband, their two kids, three dogs, and three cats. She’s a type 2 diabetes advocate and the founder of Sugar Mama Strong and Sugar Mama Strong Diabetes Support. When she’s not taking care of the kids, the house, or the zoo, you can find her binge-watching her favorite shows: “Grey’s Anatomy,” “This is Us,” and “A Million Little Things.”