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Christmas and diabetics

Published: 
Monday, December 18, 2017

Bah humbug! Christmas is here and you have just been diagnosed with diabetes. What do you do? How are you going to cope with the sudden changes in diet? After all food is a big part of the festive season.

But it can be appreciated that for someone with diabetes what is simple food for ordinary people can become somewhat metabolic poison for diabetics. So it just cannot be business as usual.

One now has to pay particular attention to one’s eating habits or there can come serious health complications.

Type 2 diabetic Jenel Pierre, who was recently diagnosed, tells the T&T Guardian it’s been the hardest to adjust.

“I had to call and cancel all my fruit cake orders. I don’t really understand much about this disease so all I know is that I’m trying to stay away from sweet things because that’s what I used to hear my grandmother who was diabetic,” she relays.

The 28-year-old says it’s going to be a tough Christmas for her because her family usually celebrates the occasion with a huge Christmas dinner.

“Now I have to look at everything I eat and how much I eat,” she laments. Pierre says getting the news was surreal to her as she showed no signs or symptoms of being diabetic. “I am actually a bit still in denial.”

Medically, it is found people with type 2 diabetes often have no symptoms at first. They may even go on to not have symptoms for many years.

Type 2 diabetes is the body being unable to metabolise glucose. This inability leads to high levels of blood glucose which over time can damage the organs of the body.

Another diabetic, John Smith, recently felt the harsh reality of not adhering to doctor’s instructions. He admits to the T&T Guardian, with his free wielding spirit, he continued on the wrong diet which caused his sugar levels to shoot so high up, had he not visited the doctor in time; he could have slipped into a diabetic coma or die.

“I used to eat whatever I want around Christmas time and just take the medication. For the first time this year, I’m going to practice moderation and don’t overdo it,” relates Smith.

With this real dilemma for diabetics the T&T Guardian spoke with various dieticians and nutritionists whom all advised discipline, control and moderation should be an all time practice.

Diabetes advice

PLAN MEALS

They explained a diabetic must plan how much they are going to eat and commit to it. “It is important for diabetics to know what a menu entails in advance, especially if they are not the one preparing the meal, this gives them the chance to decide on what they will consume or not,” said one dietician.

DON’T PROLONG HUNGER Another said diabetics must also avoid staying hungry for lengthy periods to avoid over eating when they do eat, as this can cause hyperglycemia-abnormally high blood glucose, which overtime can cause injury to organs. It is also important to note, if you think you would be tempted to eat more by having food on display, it was advised to immediately put all food away once finished eating.

GET SUPPORT

You’re not joining a diabetic social club, but it was advised that support was necessary in sticking to diet for diabetics. The dietitians suggested hanging out with other diabetics on special occasions like Christmas, that way no one feels like they are missing out and there is a common understanding of what can be eaten and what should not.

MAKE DESSERT SUGAR-FREE

You can have your hot chocolate with sprinkled cinnamon or your chocolate fudge brownie as well as your ice-cream with vanilla wafer sticks. Just as long as they are all sugar-free. And if you’re going for something more fruit-based, ensure it’s fresh fruit. If you want to make it fancy, try sugar-free whipped topping.

DIABETICS AND ALCOHOL

If you are taking one or some for the season, ensure you check in with your doctor first before you pour that glass of alcohol. Both the nutritionists and dietitians advised, if you drink, do it occasionally and only when your diabetes and blood sugar level are well controlled. They said if you are following a calorie controlled meal plan, one drink of alcohol should be counted as two fat exchanges.