Spending Christmas with diabetes might leave you dreading the festive season but there some tricks to both surviving and enjoying the holidays while managing your diabetes. These tips should make juggling special events with blood sugar control somewhat easier.
10 rules to success for spending Christmas with diabetes
1. Do not be too hard on yourself
A couple of high readings will not cause long term damage. The goal is to avoid a persistently high blood glucose level. It is also important to prevent low blood glucose levels which can occur with the consumption of alcohol or the skipping of meals.
2. Test more often
People living with diabetes often avoid testing because ‘high’ results cause them to feel they are failing. Testing provides valuable information before attending events or eating meals outside of your routine. What you know is always better than what you don’t know when it comes to diabetes.
3. Stick as closely to routine as possible
Eating regular meals and taking medication remains important. Do your best to eat breakfast, lunch and supper. If you have a large breakfast, opt for a light lunch or a fruit rather than waiting for dinner to eat again.
4. Do not drink sugar
This is one compromise that should not be made. Stay clear of all beverages containing sugar or other forms of carbohydrate. Stick to sugar free varieties or water flavoured with sliced fruits or vegetables.
5. Do not arrive hungry
This can be a two-fold problem. You will either overeat to quickly or the food may be delayed and your blood glucose levels will drop. Plan your pre-event meal to prevent the need to rush to food on arrival and socialize with a beverage before eating. This will also reduce the window of time for grazing if the food is left out for the entire duration of the event.
6. Practice portion caution
When dishing up at an event, think about the portion you would normally eat at home. If the meal is a buffet of a variety of dishes, scan the entire buffet first, pre-selecting the foods you like the most. Avoid taking a little helping of everything and walking away with a mountain of mismatched tasters. As a rule, dish up salads and vegetables first.
7. Eat fruit for dessert
This solves two problems. When eating larger than normal meals, snack times often get left out, leaving little opportunity for fruit between meals. Fruit supplies much needed fibre and other nutrients to maintain health. Eating fruit for dessert also reduces the intake of less healthy dessert options.
8. Offer to take starters or dessert
This helps to to have some control in the two most problematic courses. The main meal is often fine, offering a protein and vegetables. Starters and desserts are potentially high in fat and sugar/salt and usually account for the additional eating at an event as we are unlikely to eat a 3 course meal at home. By taking a healthy option, you will be guaranteed of something to eat and you will find it easier to limit your intake of pastries and fried foods over the festive season.
- Grilled meatballs (lean mince, lentils, oats, egg and brown onion soup powder)
- Vegetable sticks with herbed cottage cheese
- Mini brown rice cakes with hummus
- Wholewheat crackers with cheese
- Salad kebabs
- Green salad with roasted chickpeas
- Stewed fruit and sugar free custard
- Chocolate brownies made with lentils
- Fruit salad and cream
- Apple crumble (with oats)
- Sugar free jelly molds with sugar free custard
- Chocolate cake (banana and date)
- Sugar free sweets
9. Be prepared for the unforeseen
The festive season is synonymous with delays such as traffic, long queues, extra errands, more driving which can easily leave you in a position where you need food but are stuck for a healthy option. Be sure to carry healthy snacks in the event that you are delayed beyond what you anticipated.
10. Stay off the couch
Your regular exercise routine remains important and can be the key to achieving stable blood glucose levels throughout the holidays. An additional 5 – 10 minute walk after bigger than normal meals will also help. Sitting around also lends itself to more eating so it is best to stay of the couch and plan active outings or get around to those projects you have been wanting to do all year.
Recipes to try:Dark Chocolate Brownie Bites
Be safe and have a wonderful Christmas!