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Diabetes awareness during the holidays

GEHA | November 19, 2018

Nutrition and exercise Diabetes Health and wellness Everyday health
Follow these tips for managing diabetes during the holiday season.

Managing your diabetes requires consistency, but it can be difficult during the holidays. Planning ahead can help make it easier and keep you on track.

  1. If your family’s holiday meal time does not line up with your regular meal schedule, you may need a snack at your normal meal time.
  2. Eat more protein and vegetables and less fatty, high-calorie foods. Try healthier versions of your favorite foods, such as using fat-free or light sour cream in casseroles, steaming vegetables instead of sautéing, using less sugar in your fruit pie, or passing on the whipped topping. Non-starchy vegetables are low in carbs and calories and will help keep you from over eating other high-calorie and high-fat foods. Non-starchy vegetables include beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, salad greens, squash and tomatoes. The American Diabetes Association publishes a list of common non-starchy vegetables.
  3. Be selective in what you eat. High carbohydrate foods are plentiful during the holidays. Instead of full portions, take smaller portions or “samples” of several dishes. Try to keep your total carbohydrate intake the same as on a regular day. See more about types of carbohydrates, published by the American Diabetes Association. 
  4. Desserts are high in calories and carbohydrates, so pay attention to your serving size. Work in a sweet treat by replacing it for another carbohydrate. For example, if you want a small serving of pumpkin pie, pass on a dinner roll or potatoes during the main course.
  5. Check your sugar levels more often. It’s important to keep your levels under control and test your A1C level regularly.

What does the A1C test measure?
The A1C blood test is one of the primary tests used for diabetes diagnosis and management. It provides information about a person’s average levels of blood sugar over a two- to three-month period. Ways to lower your A1C level include losing weight, exercising, coping with stress, and eating a healthy diet.

Biometric screening
GEHA’s screening is an easy way to help you spot early warning signs of diabetes. The results supplement your health risk assessment and can help provide information about your lifestyle behaviors and health status. This simple test is free and confidential for GEHA medical plan members and can be done at your home, work or one of the 2,300 Quest Diagnostics locations nationwide.

To schedule an appointment, call ExamOne, a Quest Diagnostics company, at 888.234.1314.

Or, to schedule a screening online, follow these instructions:

  • Visit
  • Create an account by using a Registration Key: GEHA
  • Provide your Unique ID: Member ID + DOB (MMDDYY).
  • Create a username and password.
  • Complete your registration and select “Get Started.”
  • Select “Schedule Now” and follow the instructions to schedule your appointment.

Plus, if you participate in GEHA's free Health Rewards program, you’ll earn 75 points when you complete your biometric screening.

Sources:, “Holiday Meal Planning: Fitting in Sweets.”, American Diabetes Association, 16 October 2017., “Holiday Meal Planning: Planning Ahead.”, American Diabetes Association, 11 July 2014., “Non-Starchy Vegetables.”, American Diabetes Association, 25 August 2017., “Types of Carbohydrates.”, American Diabetes Association, 9 March 2015., “6 Ways to Lower Your A1C Level.”, Healthline Media, 11 September 2018.