Christmas is almost upon us once more. For many, it is a time when the usual diet, health, and fitness routines are suspended, a little overindulgence is excused, and all is offset with a January gym membership. For those living with diabetes, however, navigating the festive season must be done with a little more care and consideration. Whether one is living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, blood sugar levels are as important over Christmas as they are the rest of the year. So, if a loved one of yours is living with diabetes, you may be wondering how you can support them throughout the holidays. With that in mind, we reached out to some wonderful bloggers living with diabetes, and asked them to complete the following sentence:
This Christmas, friends and family can help a loved one living with diabetes by…
Ashley Ng from bittersweetdiagnosis.com
Ashley, a dietitian and PhD candidate investigating how mobile health can play a role in diabetes education in young adults, was diagnosed with diabetes in 2009, at the age of 19. She encourages sensitivity from loved ones of those living with diabetes.
“This Christmas, family and friends can help a loved one living with diabetes by... being kind and supportive. We don't need people breathing down our necks, reminding us that we have diabetes and if we should be eating something. Christmas is a time for family, love, laughter, and joy. Please respect and trust that we know what we are doing in terms of managing our diabetes. We will ask for help when we need it.
“Sometimes, we might ask what ingredients are used in a dish. Please understand that this will help us estimate the amount of carbohydrates in the meal and calculate the insulin needed for it. While Christmas is the silly season for eating, let's balance that up with some physical activity. Getting everyone to help out with the clean up or scheduling a walk after a meal isn't just beneficial for us living with diabetes. It will do wonders for everyone.
“So this Christmas, friends and family can help a loved one living with diabetes by seeing us as a person first rather than the condition itself.”
Tanya from theleveledlife.com
Tanya lives with type 1 diabetes, and keeps a blog alongside her two sisters, Melissa and Emily. When it comes to food, her advice is to let everyone enjoy it without judgement.
“This Christmas, friends and family can help a loved one living with diabetes by... letting them enjoy the Christmas treats just like everyone else. There is no need to judge someone living with diabetes on what they choose to eat. It is a time to celebrate and share moments with your loved ones.”
Vidya Sury from vidyasury.com
Vidya was diagnosed with diabetes in 2013, and it is just one of the many subjects she writes about on the website she started 10 years earlier. She calls on her own experience, and the support she received from her family, to offer advice to anyone in the same situation.
“This Christmas, friends and family can help a loved one living with diabetes by... buddying up to eat healthy and exercise.
“This makes it easy for everyone to adopt a healthy lifestyle, and in the process, encouraging the one with diabetes to take good care of themselves. It can be as simple as including a salad with every meal and walking (or gymming) together. The love and support keeps everyone stress-free and healthy. When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2013, I changed my eating habits overnight and my family came forward to join me in my goal to get my sugar back in control. Now everyone is fitter and makes it a point to make healthy choices.”
Cam Johnson from deconstructingdiabetes.com.au
Cam, a dietitian at Deconstructing Diabetes, serves up five tips for the price of one. Like Tanya, he believes those living with diabetes should be able to indulge like everyone else, without facing judgement.
“This Christmas, friends and family can help a loved one living with diabetes by…
... not asking “should you be eating that with your diabetes?” or “should you be eating that amount with your diabetes?”. What is eaten once per year is not going to affect diabetes control, weight, etc. Enjoy Christmas lunch, with no reference to the food being “healthy” or otherwise.
... providing choices for meals and snacks that fit with dietary needs and preferences for the person with diabetes (ask before what they would like, and to spoil them, you could include a carbohydrate count of the foods if appropriate)
... offering the gift of presence, not presents. The festive season is really a time to enjoy time spent with friends and family, rather than unwanted and never used presents
... offering the gift of support, encouragement and understanding for people living with diabetes
... offering the gift of a dietitian consultation, if there are specific dietary questions that need answered in 2018”
Shelby Kinnaird from diabeticfoodie.com
This Christmas will be Shelby’s 19th since being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. While her blog is a great place for food ideas, her tip is perfect for anyone struggling to find a gift for their loved one living with diabetes.
“This Christmas, friends and family can help a loved one living with diabetes by... giving them a copy of Bright Spots and Landmines - The Diabetes Guide I Wish Someone Had Handed Me by Adam Brown of diaTribe. There are so many useful tips about food, sleep, exercise, and attitude. I started reading the book at 1 a.m. in a hotel room when I couldn’t sleep. I followed some of Adam’s advice and was asleep within minutes!
“(Note: I have no affiliation with the book.)”
Carly Newman from thewanderlustdays.com
Carly, who lives with type 1 diabetes, sent us her tip all the way from the Galapagos Islands, where she moved from Australia having traveled around the globe. Her adventurous spirit shines through in her words of wisdom.
“This Christmas, friends and family can help a loved one living with diabetes by... letting them go and allowing them to live their life to their maximum capability.
“Whether that be through travel, adventure, enjoying mischief with friends, or anything else their heart desires, for a person living with diabetes everything is possible.”
Gretchen from wildlyfluctuating.blogspot.com
Gretchen has lived with type 2 diabetes for over 20 years, and has published two books about the condition as well as keeping her blog. In her opinion, knowledge is the key to supporting a loved one with diabetes.
“This Christmas, friends and family can help a loved one living with diabetes by... learning more about what kind of diet they're following and then making sure appropriate treats are available at gatherings.”
Frank Sita from type1writes.com
Frank, who blogs about his life with type 1 diabetes, says that the emotional aspects of living with diabetes can be exacerbated in the holiday season, so support from friends and family can be extra valuable at this time of year.
“This Christmas, friends and family can help a loved one living with diabetes by... taking the time to check in, listen, and show that they care. Diabetes is an extremely isolating condition to live with, and that isolation can feel a little greater at this time of the year as we see our loved ones being merry and having a carefree time.”
If you have a loved one living with diabetes, a few thoughtful acts can go a long way in ensuring everyone has a wonderful, loving, and healthy Christmas.
From everyone here at MyTherapy: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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