For people with diabetes, Christmas, for all its fun and jollity, can feel like a bit of an obstacle course. Calorific Christmas dinners can trip you up, and it’s often hard to know exactly how to navigate the festive season without disastrous consequences for your blood sugar. Here are a few ways you can have a healthy Christmas dinner without missing out on the festive fun:

1. Plenty of vegetables

Filling your plate with vegetables is a great way to make your Christmas dinner healthier: they’re low in calories and filling. Make a hearty portion of vegetables a little gift to yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

2. Healthy nibbles

If you want to avoid gaining weight and losing control of your blood sugar, avoid the traditional Christmas nibbles. Lower-calorie alternatives include chopped fruit on cocktail sticks, dried fruit, popcorn sprinkled with paprika (rather than toffee and butterscotch), olives, or gherkins.

3. Healthier alternatives

There are plenty of things you can do to make the meal itself less troubling for your blood sugar levels. Try removing the skin from the turkey, dry-roasting potatoes, and increasing your vegetable portion.

4. A drink with dinner

Avoid drinking before dinner. Having a glass of wine or two with dinner is perfectly manageable for people with diabetes, but drinking on an empty stomach increases the amount of alcohol in your blood stream and the risk of hypoglycemia.

5. Exercise

The festive period isn’t usually a time of great physical activity. It’s probably a bit hopeful to expect yourself to exercise as much as usual, but do try not to stop exercising altogether. A brisk walk will do wonders for blood sugar control. Or having a Christmas boogie, if you’re feeling fabulous.

6. Desserts: avoid “diabetic” alternatives

A small treat after Christmas dinner is perfectly manageable, particularly if you’ve been strict with yourself over most of the season.

If you are concerned about the effect of dessert on your blood sugar levels, try small changes: eating a mince pie without the lid, for example. It sounds like a very minor change, but it might make life that bit easier.

Don’t opt for “diabetic” alternatives: they offer very little. Your blood glucose levels will still be affected, you won’t be taken in any fewer calories, and it costs more. If that doesn’t put you off, maybe the laxative effects will. That’s no way to have a merry Christmas.

7. Don’t be too hard on yourself

If you set yourself targets before Christmas – you might be wishing to lose weight, or have a certain range within which you want to keep your blood glucose levels – don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t quite meet them. Failing to meet targets doesn’t make you a failure, so don’t get disheartened: you need the motivation and positive attitude to succeed in the future.

Have a great Christmas.

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