Friday, 13 December 2013

A Wonderful Christmastime

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  But it's also beginning to look a lot like a potentially difficult time for people with diabetes.

Christmas is traditionally time for indulging in those things that we may not always allow ourselves (such as a complete tin of Quality Street in one sitting) and that can lead to blood glucose levels that are higher than normal.  Without wanting to go into too much detail here, I wrote a blog for Diabetes UK last year about coping with Christmas which may offer some useful tips when considering that extra mince pie.

What often gets overlooked is the added stress that Christmas can bring.  Mad dash for last minute presents, work nights out, travelling to visit friends and family can all cause extra stress that can not only lead to increased BG readings, but can also make you feel a bit down.  In fact those two things alone may become a bit of a viscous circle. 

It's important to be able to spot those signs and know how to manage them as best you can.

The first thing to remember is that there's really no such thing as a "bad" BG reading.  Of course there are numbers you probably should be happier with than others, but the concept of "good and bad" shouldn't really apply to your blood glucose.  Being stressed because your BG levels are "bad" is a counter productive thing.

Testing more frequently and remembering the principles of how to correct your BG (either up or down) is important.  As a rough guide, one unit of quick acting insulin should reduce your blood glucose by about 2-3mmol though obviously everyone is different.  Equally, approx 15g of fast acting carbohydrate (think Jelly Babies) should raise your glucose within about 10 minutes if you're feeling hypo.  Whilst it might be tempting to reach for that selection box to treat a hypo, chocolate won't do the job effectively.

Don't be frightened off those extra treat foods because you think they make your diabetes unmanageable.  If you've got a smart phone, the Carbs & Cals app can be quite handy for some things, even if it's only to give you an estimation of what the carbohydrate content of some food is.

Being prepared for the stress of last minute shopping, seemingly endless queues of traffic and those (almost) inevitable family arguments after a few festive sherries.  Not only do these things obviously have an emotional impact on you, they can also increase your BG.

If you end up feeling like Christmas is becoming a frustrating time, try not to be too hard on yourself.  Remember that managing diabetes on a 'normal' day is often very difficult and the numerous changes to your routine that Christmas brings can make you feel like you're out of control.

Suffering in silence rarely makes things any better.  Peer Support volunteers such as myself and Louise can help answer any questions you've got (and hopefully give you a few tips on how we've learned to tackle Christmas) as well as pointing you in the right direction for other bits of useful information.  Our details are in the opening post of this blog and we're here to help if we can (or just to chat about what your least favourite present is!)

The most important thing to remember is that Christmas is a time for fun and celebration.  Diabetes shouldn't get in the way of doing any of that.

Merry Christmas!

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