Coping With Christmas – by Andy Broomhead

Whilst Roy Wood famously pined for it to be Christmas every day, I sadly don’t. That’s not to say I’m some Dickensian miser who can’t bear the sight of a bit of tinsel or the jingle of some bells (well maybe in October – I digress). I genuinely look forward to Christmas, but I know it’ll play havoc with me.

I’m a creature of habit, a person of routine, someone who enjoys certainty as much as it can ever be found. Christmas (and I suppose I’m talking about most of December really) destroys a lot of that and makes life a little more chaotic.

Whilst there are plus points like seeing family and friends, there are the downsides like over indulgence. Last year I was into my London Marathon training and was incredibly measured with what I ate, but that’s not really the norm. I think it’s totally natural to want to unwind and indulge during your Christmas holiday and being diabetic shouldn’t stop me from doing that – it just means a little extra work on my part.

With all that in mind, I’ve come up with a few tips for surviving the festive period (note that I’m not offering any tips on dealing with your inlaws!)…

Don’t worry. It’s easy to get sidetracked by the number on your blood glucose meter at the best of times and with mince pies and chocolates flying around, I think it’s inevitable that at some stage, you’ll get a higher reading than you’d normally expect. That said…

Test a bit more often. If your house is anything like mine, not only will you be eating things that aren’t the norm, your mealtimes will end up being different too. If you normally test 4 times a day, sticking an extra one in should mean you don’t stray too far off course.

Don’t deprive yourself. A slice of Christmas cake or an extra mince pie probably won’t be your downfall (unless the slice of cake is the size of a house brick) and there’s nothing worse than feeling like a martyr while everyone around you is having a great time.

Keep the packets. I’m terrible for throwing away boxes with nutritional information on them. It’s usually convenient to check the back of a packet for the carb values per serving (*cough* per mince pie *cough*) and adjust my dose accordingly. It’s less convenient if I’ve stuck the box in the recycling bin along with all the wrapping paper so try sand save them if it’ll help you.

Take the help that’s there. As you may have caught on, I’ll definitely be sneaking the odd bit of dessert over the next few weeks but I’ll make sure I’ve got things like low fat custard or reduced sugar ice cream to go with them. No-one else round the dinner table can tell the difference anyway. I’ve convinced myself I had low-sugar cranberry sauce last year but an internet search has proved fruitless (sorry!).

I suppose the message is the same one that should really apply regardless – enjoy everything in moderation. Of course it’s a bit harder to do when you’re diabetic, but all the tools are there to help you. Being diabetic is just different, not worse.

I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and a very happy 2013. I’ll be back in the new year to talk about my diabetes study and DAFNE (amongst a whole host of other things).

Merry Christmas!

You can check out our advice on diabetes and Christmas on our website.

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Managing diabetes with all the different food (and continuous eating) at Christmas can be daunting. But my philosophy is that it is one day of the year. I try my best with carb counting and don’t beat myself up if I get it wrong. My understanding is that high BG is damaging long term but, for one day, it has little impact.
As my 8th Christmas with diabetes approaches, I know my Mum’s homemade Christmas pudding/mincepies/cranberry sauce/… have no packets with carb counts on them. I know I will get some of my insulin doses wrong. But I also know that I shall enjoy myself with my friends and family.

Thank you for this it is my first christmas being diabetic and to be honest I have been dreading it. Reading this has helped me to realise its not going to be as bad as I thought everything in moderation. Carb reading has become part of everyday life now but have you seen how many are in christmas pudding! I will have a little though as it is my favourite part of christmas and will ensure I test my blood more also. Thanks again, Merry Christmas & a very Happy New Year.

many thanks for the great tips I will be mindful of them and hope you have a very enjoyable Christmas Maureen Jacobs