If you’re looking for permission to eat all the delicious things this holiday season (cheese platters, pavlova, your Aunt Jenny’s profiteroles, etc.), here it is!
You. Can. Eat. What. You. Want.
We know that holiday eating for people with diabetes can be riddled with anxiety, guilt, and cringey comments from clueless family members at the dinner table (“should you eat that?”). But we truly believe that you can and SHOULD enjoy feasting on festive foods, rather than restricting yourself. Here’s why.
Because restricting your diet doesn’t guarantee a perfect blood sugar
Some people may swear that avoiding certain foods is the key to diabetes management, but it’s more complicated than that. And for the record, dieticians are not onboard with food restrictions.
There are so many factors at play when it comes to blood glucose management – not just food. You might avoid carbs, but still experience high blood sugars thanks to stress, sleep deprivation, hormones, or a range of other things that are out of your control.
Then there’s the fact that ALL food affects blood sugar in some way anyway. We might calculate insulin doses according to carb intake, but fat and protein are also converted into glucose and can affect your blood sugars (particularly noticeable if you’re having low-carb meals).
Maybe you choose to avoid certain foods because you know they mess with your blood glucose levels and it’s just not worth the hassle. That’s totally fine! You know what works for you. The point we’re making is that you don’t HAVE to avoid foods or restrict your eating just because you have diabetes. Food is only one part of the puzzle.
Because it’s more beneficial to learn how your body responds to different foods
It’s much healthier (and more delicious) to learn how different foods affect you, and manage this accordingly with insulin, exercise and whatever helps. (Interestingly, research shows that eating your food in a certain order might even help avoid blood sugar spikes. Do with that what you will.)
Restricting what you eat can lead to unhealthy or obsessive behaviours, which will cause way more damage in the long run than the occasional slice of Christmas pudding.
Your body will react in its own way to different foods. By working with a dietician, and keeping track of what works for you, you can feel empowered to eat what you want. And let’s be brutally honest here – No matter what you put in your body, you’ll still have diabetes. Your pancreas will still be useless, and your blood sugar will still need wrangling.
Avoiding the pudding may stop your blood sugar from going up right now, but it won’t take your diabetes away. So why not learn how to offset that tasty pud with the right amount of insulin and/or exercise?
Because they’re delicious and you deserve nice things
Remember, it’s not your fault that you have diabetes. You don’t need to punish yourself for it, or beat yourself up if you get your boluses wrong sometimes.
You spend all dang year trying to get it right. So enjoy your festive foods. You’ve earned them.
But on that note… it’s really important to get advice from YOUR diabetes team. This article is in no way meant to replace their proper medical input.