A Sensible Approach to Christmas: For some reason when Christmas rolls around it can be easy to begin naming all the things you love. Your emotions are tied to tastes, scents and sights of the holiday. When you have diabetes you may find your emotional wants in conflict with what your body needs.
If you’re like me you might hear the tune “Favorite Things” rolling through your mind as you consider what you like best about the holiday.
Fudge squares on nice plates and brownies with caramel
Mom’s homemade stuffing and warm ‘taters drizzled
With butter or cream – and maybe some cheese
These are a few of my favorite things
When the bird’s done
When the pie’s won
When I’m feeling full
I simply remember my favorite things
So why do I feel so bad.
It can be easy to think that at Christmas we can allow ourselves to fully enjoy ourselves – especially if we have done an exceptional job at managing our diabetes. However, the things that cause your body problems the other 364 days of the year WILL cause problems December 25th. Our stomachs will still only need total mealtime food roughly the size of a balled fist.
If you have minimized carbohydrates as part of your diabetes management (most type 2 diabetics will) you will find your body won’t do well if you infuse lots of carbs in one meal.
This brings up the topic of carb management. It will be helpful if you can get a handle on the approximate carbs you will find in traditional Christmas foods. For instance bread that is light and high in fiber will be a better choice than bread that is heavy. Squash will have less negative impact on your blood sugar than potatoes.
It will not be especially helpful to set aside physical activity during the holidays. It may seem to be an inconvenience, but the truth is it will be important to your enjoyment of the holiday. If you have swings in your blood sugar levels you will not be able to engage in holiday festivities the way you may like. It is likely you can find another family member that would welcome the opportunity to walk with you or if your climate allows it, ride a bike.
You can use certain proteins to help offset a potential blood sugar spike caused by carbs. For instance eating almonds after a meal with abundant carbs can help reduce a spike in blood sugar. On the other hand if you suffer from low blood sugar you should have juice or other active food product that can help raise your blood sugar to acceptable levels if required.
In most cases your host or hostess may not know enough about diabetes to be sensitive to what you may need. You will need to kindly assume the role of personal protector by graciously declining certain foods and enjoying those that can help you maintain positive health. The end result will be a better overall holiday experience with family and friends.
One way to add a positive spin to your holiday experience is to bring one or two of your own diabetic friendly recipes that will allow you an increased comfort level and offer you an opportunity to dialogue with your host or hostess about diabetes.
Here’s to a great Christmas and a New Year in which diabetes advances may lead to a cure.