Making Christmas magical and manageable for a child with diabetes

Christmas should be the happiest time of the year for children, and having diabetes should not be a barrier to that. But Christmas can present challenges if your child has diabetes, and you should prepare for them in advance.

Saying “no” is, unfortunately, likely to be one of these challenges. Christmas can be an enduring period of temptation, and children may struggle being denied foods and drinks which other family members or friends consume.

Additionally, the hustle and bustle of Christmas shenanigans can make your child’s blood sugar levels harder to manage. Food may be served at disparate times of the day, altering their routines, and excitement may make your child less likely to focus on recognising hypo symptoms.

Preparing for these events is not only worthwhile, but will serve to enhance your child’s enjoyment on the big day.

Keep temptation out of sight

Where possible, keep foods out of sight that will not only be tempting to your child, but liable to spike their blood sugar levels. For example, you could hide foods between meals and put away foods not in use, or cover them.

Instead, stock the cupboards with healthy snacks that your child will enjoy and keep these out on display.

Stock up

With pharmacies shut over Christmas, be sure to stock up on your child’s medication in advance. Additionally, ensure you have enough hypo treatments in the house and in the car if you are travelling.

Say yes, occasionally

Saying no every time you child asks for something sweet, such as the chocolate in an advent calendar, won’t do their morale any good. If anything, they’ll likely feel left out, so saying yes on occasion can be beneficial.

If pudding is being served, you could let your child have a very small portion, or even better, present them with their own unique blood sugar friendly dessert.

Be aware of hypos

It can be horrible having to test your child’s blood sugar more when they’re enjoying themselves, but doing so can help ensure they’re in the best position to continue enjoying themselves.

Your child may not be looking out for signs or low or high blood sugar, for example if they’re engrossed in a new toy, so keep an eye out for any symptoms of hypos they may exhibit.

Insulin doses

Whether you and/or your child work out their insulin doses, this can be harder over Christmas.

As mentioned, Christmas meals are often served at unusual times of the day, so accounting for this as best possible beforehand is advised, as well as monitoring how much food your child eats at meals, and between meals, in order to calculate their insulin doses.

Enjoy family time

Above all, enjoy your child’s enjoyment of Christmas. It can be a magical time of year where treasured memories are made, and while it’s important to make sure your child’s diabetes is well managed, don’t let it dictate their Christmas.

From all of us at Diabetes.co.uk, have a very Merry (and healthy) Christmas!

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About the author

Jack Woodfield

Jack is a 27-year-old journalist based in Coventry, UK. He is a type 1 diabetic who enjoys sport, boring weekends, MTV and once won a talent show for dancing to Dario G’s 1997 hit “Sunchyme”.

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