Winter blood sugar tips for diabetics

By Zhanglin Kong, registered dietician and program director of WIC/Nutrition at South Cove Community Health Center


It is common for people with diabetes that their blood sugar level goes higher than usual when the temperature drops. Many factors contribute to this, as keeping up with a balanced diet and exercise is not easy in winter. When daylight gets much shorter and the air gets colder, we tend to stay indoors to enjoy the warmth. It is also the time that we relax, gather, celebrate and enjoy holidays with delicious food and drinks to unwind from a whole year of work. All of these can disrupt our well-established routines from warmer seasons.

The bright side is that, as a brand new year is about to start, we are usually more motivated to make resolutions for better blood sugar, well-managed body weight or higher level of fitness. To give you a jumpstart for a new beginning in this cold season, here are some highly useful tips to give you extra confidence for the holidays.



It is difficult for everyone to resist the urge to feast on holiday treats. For so long, good food symbolizes love. But keep in mind that you have a balanced diet to maintain. You also need to track the amount of carbohydrates you eat.

  • Eat fruits or vegetables before you start big meals, if you know there won’t be many greens.
  • Drink plenty of low-calorie fluids while eating: sparking water, water with a slice of lemon or lime, ice tea, or diluted juice. The fluid will take up extra space in your stomach, so you won’t eat too much food.
  • Avoid dishes with heavy gravy or sauces. If there is dressing or sauce on the side, try not to dip your food into them.
  • Use a smaller plate if possible, and fill your place only once with a balanced proportion of vegetables, grains and proteins, following MyPlate recommendations.


Regular physical activities provide many benefits. They keep you warm, lower your blood sugar, help your body use insulin better and improve your mood.

As we spend more time inside, there are many options to stay active indoors. You can watch exercise DVDs, play dance games on your Wii or Xbox, or practice yoga or Pilates right in your living room. These low-impact workouts guarantee a fun time and a good stretch.

In spite of the temperature, walking or jogging outside is still achievable in this weather. To keep warm, wear layers and keep bare skin covered as much as possible. Layers can trap warm air in between and make it easier for taking clothes off and putting them back on.

Walking or jogging with your dog or a workout buddy is a good way to keep you motivated. Look for a local walking/running group to join, or reconnect with an old friend for exercising together. The encouragement and support will carry you through the difficulties and make the time fly by.

This post is also available in: Chinese

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