December is a month packed with meaningful observances and traditions. Do you celebrate Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, or New Year’s Eve? My practice serves patients from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds who enjoy a wide variety of wonderful celebratory customs and practices throughout the month. Nearly all of these festivities involve gathering with friends and loved ones…and feasting. That last bit can be a challenge for my patients with prediabetes.

Make Joy Happen

Dreading temptation or deprivation is no fun, so I like to remind my patients that these holidays are occasions for joy. We gather together to share warmth, enjoy each other’s company, offset the season’s long nights and chilly days. Food is a part of this, but it’s not the only part.

There’s so much more to look forward to this time of year. Spending time with family, honoring your spiritual or cultural heritage, planning fun activities like goofy gift exchanges or walking to see holiday light displays — these are also important and fulfilling.

Here are a few suggestions for celebrating both your cultural traditions and your healthy new lifestyle this month.

  • Get in the spirit 

    Remember that the most important thing about the holidays is to spend time enjoying the spirit of fellowship. Practice actively focusing on the positive.

  • Embrace your traditions

    Reclaim cultural practices that support your diabetes prevention efforts. A lot of sound and beneficial culinary wisdom gets lost in the hustle of modern living. Seek out nourishment that fulfills both your desire to observe beloved traditions and the healthful changes you’re making in your everyday life.

  • Share your delight

    If you’ve discovered healthful new recipes, amazing hiking trails, fun classes — by all means share them with your friends and family. You might inspire new traditions that generations to come will cherish. Spread the joy.

  • Reach out

    Don’t struggle in silence and don’t beat yourself up. If you overeat one day, it’s okay. Try to eat better and exercise the next day. Utilize your support network. Be kind to others, but also remember to be kind to yourself.

  • Take a bow 

    Celebrate the progress you made this year. You’ve made the decision to set goals and change your behavior for the better, and that’s fantastic! Acknowledge your accomplishments and step into the new year empowered.