In Bedfordshire 1 person in 16 has diabetes, a serious illness which increases the risk of heart attack, sight loss, stroke and amputation if it is not well managed. It also brings with it the risks of serious complications from infections such as flu.
With the festive season now firmly upon us, most people will be looking forward to a few days off work, unwrapping presents, eating delicious food and enjoying a party. It is the period in the year where most people will indulge in lots of food and drinks.
Enjoying the indulgent festive season can be a struggle for people with diabetes. What to eat, how often to eat and the exertion from the Christmas festivities are just some of the challenges faced by people with diabetes. This is in addition to the challenges posed by the winter months and the impact this can have on a person’s diet and diabetes control.
Eating and drinking during the festive period is part of the fun, and there’s no need to completely miss out, however it is important to be aware that rich food and alcohol can greatly affect your blood sugar levels and your diabetes control.
The best approach is to stick to the principles of your usual healthy low sugar diet, and to ensure you have your regular meal times of breakfast, lunch and dinner, as you would during the rest of the year. Keeping to your regular meal times will help you to avoid grazing between meals, and will help you to balance your blood glucose levels. Complex carbohydrates over refined sugars will also ensure you achieve stable blood sugar levels.
With too much food and drink comes laying on the settee and not moving for hours. This lack of or change in physical activity could also impact on your diabetes control and cause additional unwanted weight gain.
Avoid getting stuck on the settee. Immobility for people with diabetes can result in worse blood sugar control so it is very important to stay active. Doing exercise for just 15 minutes every day can contribute to better diabetes control. Do be careful though if you are planning to run or exercise outside in the winter. Avoid icy areas, wear comfortable clothes and ensure you are wearing suitable running shoes.
Diabetes is on the rise in Bedfordshire and Public Health estimate that there are over 5,000 undiagnosed cases in our area. This means people’s health is deteriorating because they don’t know they have diabetes and are not making changes to their lives that could make a difference.
Finding out your risk of Type 2 Diabetes only takes a few minutes. You can use the Diabetes UK Know Your Risk Tool online at: www.riskscore.diabetes.org.uk or, if you feel unwell and have some of the symptoms, you should visit your doctor- it could be the most important thing you do today. You can find more information about diabetes at www.diabetes.org.uk.
So, as long as you are mindful of the effects of food and drink on your diabetes control and try to keep a balanced low sugar diet as well as keeping active during the festive period, there’s no reason not to enjoy your Christmas!