Three Tips to Pump Your Way Through the Holidays

Written by Kristi Caporoso

     The holidays may be a joyous time for all, but it can also be a stressful time for the body of a diabetic.  All those candy canes, pies, New Year's Eve champagne; it can be a lot to manage.  Of course, moderation is always important to keep in mind.  Whether you're diabetic or not, you shouldn't stuff all the chocolates your grandmother got you into your mouth in one night.  However, the holidays are also a time to splurge and indulge, and having diabetes isn't a reason to withhold from this.  This is one of the many times having a pump comes in handy.

1. Make temp basal your new holiday friend

     Personally speaking, I'm someone who frequently uses temp basal for exercise.  However, not everyone remembers that this handy tool is in their arsenal.  Temporary basals can be very useful when you're eating high fat foods.  So if you know that lasagna is going to stay in your bloodstream hours after dinnertime, increase your basal rate by 20 or 30 percent, whichever amount you think is best, for the next couple of hours.  That way you can enjoy all your family's delicious food and not feel like crap and full of regret later on.  Temp basal can also be a life saver if you are drinking.  If you know champagne or wine is going to spike your blood sugar when you drink it but make you plummet later on, adjust accordingly.

2. Remember dual and square wave?

    I admit that I often forget these two bolus options are buried deep in the bolus menu of my Medtronic.  When I was ten or eleven I used them on vacation with my family to compensate for the large, drawn out meals we had every night.  Since then I haven't tried them out, although at this point in my life they would probably be very useful.  Late nights of prolonged snacking are prime time for dual and square wave.  The way it works, if you've forgotten, is basically by breaking up your bolus into smaller increments over a set period of time.  So if you're having a high fat meal, you can bolus for the majority of the carbs when you eat, and set your pump to give you extra insulin afterwards to prevent the post-meal spike.  Square wave, on the other hand, is more for snacking.  If you're going to be watching a holiday movie while munching on chips and candy, you can set your bolus to be delivered over time, not all at once.  Now I'm not an expert at either of these, so before you try them you may want to consult your doctor or dig out that how-to book you got when you first started on your pump.

3. Go easy on the easy bolus

     Easy bolus can be a bit of a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, you can bolus without even looking at your pump.  On the other hand, this tempts us to round up or down so we can bolus without looking for everything, even if our calculations are far off.  Using bolus wizard is your best bet for the holidays, that way you can keep track of how much active insulin you have on board, and what your bolus is actually supposed to be.  If you have to enter the carbs, you're more likely to look at the label to see what they actually are.  And in some cases, you may be surprised.  Those chocolate-dipped strawberry jelly cookies may have more carbs than a unit's worth of insulin that you were going to easy bolus.  Also it's easy to lose track of whether you bolused or not, and how much you bolused.