We All Know It: Holidays Trigger Excessive Blood Sugars

Irrespective of the way you have a good time the winter holidays, I’ll wager that you just do it with wealthy and candy consolation meals. You most likely splurge greater than traditional — in each manner, however with meals particularly. You most likely train much less. You would possibly, typically talking, undertake a brief philosophy of indulgence. You could be a bit much less fussy about your insulin administration.

Diabetes calls for that you just continuously steadiness short-term pleasures in opposition to long-term penalties. It’s actually one thing I take into consideration dozens of instances a day. Round Christmas and New 12 months’s, it feels pure tilt that steadiness in the direction of short-term pleasure.

We’d by no means let you know to utterly stifle these indulgent impulses — individuals with diabetes ought to be capable of get pleasure from good vacation cheer, and easing up on the intensive diabetes administration can really feel fairly nice … when it doesn’t result in hypos and blood sugar rollercoasters, that’s. There’s no denying that the vacations might be problematic for glucose administration, and it’s good to maintain the potential points and penalties in thoughts.

Holidays and Excessive Blood Sugar

With so many individuals carrying steady glucose displays (CGMs) nowadays, a few of the greatest knowledge on blood sugars now comes from start-ups and tech firms. Glooko, a cellular diabetes well being platform, releases a treasure trove of information nearly yearly.

In its 2020 report (PDF), Glooko revealed that the entire highest blood glucose days of the yr occurred on main holidays. Glooko prospects had their highest common blood sugar readings on:

  • New 12 months’s Day (185.5 mg/dL)
  • Christmas (182.6)
  • Valentine’s Day (179.5)
  • Thanksgiving (178.6)

And this was throughout 2020, the primary yr of the pandemic, when many People had vacation celebrations that have been extra mellow and small than traditional.

Glooko customers examine their blood sugar most frequently in the course of the weekday, and least typically on the weekend. Their blood sugar reliably spikes up on Saturday and Sunday, after which goes again down till Thursday, at which level it goes again up once more. The distinction will not be big — a low of 178 mg/dL on Thursday, and a excessive of 184 mg/dL on Sunday — however the cycle could be acquainted to anybody with diabetes.

Winter and Larger A1C Ranges

A number of tutorial research have additionally tried to measure the diploma to which glucose management slips over the vacations.

A 2014 research in Diabetes Care checked out 3,212 English adults with diabetes (each sorts) over a interval of years, and located that each A1C and ldl cholesterol peaked within the 31 days after Christmas.

Right here’s a graph from the article that places it into perspective:

We All Know It: Holidays Trigger Excessive Blood Sugars

Jones A et al. Diabetes Care

This knowledge means that English sufferers managed their diabetes greatest in the course of the summer time and early autumn (a consequence that agrees with Glooko’s numbers). The typical A1C elevated almost 0.5 share factors from September to January, and common blood sugar climbed 0.8 mmol/L (about 14 mg/dL).

Does it matter? Effectively, perhaps not. The researchers referred to as these modifications “small” and “transient,” and warned that medical suppliers shouldn’t learn an excessive amount of into these vacation numbers, as a result of they’re probably to enhance shortly. The change was certainly short-lived, as you possibly can see that blood sugar ranges instantly declined in February, maybe a results of wholesome choices throughout New 12 months’s decision season.

Little Modifications Can Add Up

An older research from China, nevertheless, means that winter excesses can contribute to lasting blood sugar issues. Christmas will not be a significant vacation in China, however the world’s most populous nation has its personal winter celebrations across the identical time, and the researchers clarify that folks over there benefit from the season reasonably like we do within the West: “Through the winter holidays, persons are typically bodily inactive they usually get pleasure from salty meals and alcoholic drinks.”

This research seemed solely at sufferers with kind 2 diabetes, a situation that sadly often will get worse yr by yr, with A1C slowly rising (typically regardless of the usage of stronger medicine). Taking a look at seasonal A1C knowledge, the research concluded that winter holidays play a giant position within the important will increase in A1C that sufferers with kind 2 are likely to expertise as they age. On this case, whereas blood sugar did have a tendency to enhance in February, it often wasn’t sufficient to counter the massive spike in the course of the vacation season; some share of the vacation blood sugar improve was due to this fact everlasting.

The authors warned that small everlasting will increase — the paper discovered a 0.2% rise in A1C from November to March, an increase that “may not seem like clinically necessary and will simply go unnoticed by each topics and physicians” — can add as much as big issues in the event that they happen yr after yr.


Though we all know that most individuals expertise greater blood sugar ranges within the winter, we don’t know the way typically it’s a big downside. Some individuals can strategically tolerate greater glucose values in the course of the holidays, and get again into their wholesome habits and regular degree of management quickly after. Others, nevertheless, might let dangerous vacation habits creep into their way of life.

We want you a merry, completely happy, and joyful winter vacation. We hope you get pleasure from your self — however please don’t utterly lose sight of your long-term well being objectives. Slightly short-term hyperglycemia isn’t the top of the world, nevertheless it’s price contemplating how one can make it possible for vacation blood sugar points don’t observe you into the brand new yr.


Glooko Diabetes Information Annual Report. Glooko (PDF).

Jones A et al. Impact of the Vacation Season in Sufferers With Diabetes: Glycemia and Lipids Enhance Postholiday, however the Impact Is Small and Transient. Diabetes Care. April 10, 2014.

Chen H et al. A Potential Examine of Glycemic Management Throughout Vacation Time in Type 2 Diabetic Sufferers. Diabetes Care. February 1, 2004.

Latest Recipes

More Recipes Like This