HEALTH

Tips for diabetic-friendly holidays

Don’t lose out on festive season fun in the sun just because you have diabetes

Diabetic tip: replace fatty sausages at a braai with a lower-fat alternative such as chicken or lean meat
Diabetic tip: replace fatty sausages at a braai with a lower-fat alternative such as chicken or lean meat

The festive season can be a tough time for the 1.8 million South Africans who are affected by diabetes mellitus.

Many of the lifestyle factors that diabetics are advised to avoid – such as drinking, consuming vast amounts of sugar and red meat, smoking and being inactive – are how the rest of the population fill their days during the December and January holiday time.

Sanlam Personal Finance product actuary Petrie Marx says this time of year can be stressful for diabetics as they are out of their normal routine.

“November is Diabetes Awareness month, with the global spotlight placed on this chronic disease. It is the perfect time to remind diabetics and their loved ones to take care during the festive season.

“Managing A1CL levels is always top of mind for diabetics, and never more so than during the holidays.”

Marx offers a few tips for a diabetes-friendly holiday.

Put your own spin on the festive season diet – there are myriad ideas online for tweaking traditional festive season food for the particular needs of a diabetic.

If you celebrate Christmas, you can find a lot of great ideas on Diabetes UK. Some quick hacks are:

  • Everything in moderation – rather than complete denial, keep treats like the odd chocolate small and infrequent.
  • Replace fatty braai meats with lean ones.
  • Make your roast potatoes big so there is less surface area to absorb oil (and use light cooking oil spray).
  • Use low fat custard instead of brandy butter.
  • Remove the skin from your turkey roast on Christmas Day.
  • Limit your carbs: These are the food group that have the biggest impact on blood sugar. Choosing carbs wisely to keep blood sugar levels stable is critical during the season.
Diabetic tip: drink slowly and alternate one alcoholic drink with one soft drink
Diabetic tip: drink slowly and alternate one alcoholic drink with one soft drink

Alcohol

Drink alcohol in moderation, and on this subject it may help to consider following these tips from the American Diabetes Association:

  • Don’t drink on an empty stomach or when your blood glucose level is low.
  • Don’t replace food with alcohol.
  • Drink slowly and always have a zero-sugar and zero-alcohol drink (water, diet soda, iced tea) by your side to keep you hydrated.
  • Opt for light beer or wine.
  • Add sugar-free and calorie-free mixers to hard liquor.

Keep active

While a lot of the holiday plans may revolve around meal times, there are also many great ways to be active.

If you are at the coast, pack your body board or take long walks on the beach.

If you are home, keep up your gym routine or head to the park for some soccer or cricket with friends and family.

If you experience a setback, get back on track:

Don’t beat yourself up, we are all human, but if you do overindulge, try to get back on track immediately to avoid getting into a situation where you need medical help.

  • Check medical aid and severe illness cover: before going away on holiday, make sure your medical aid is up to date and check which hospitals in the area you are travelling to are on your plan.

 

  • Familiarise yourself with local medical facilities: If you are travelling to a new location, find a GP and 24-hour medical room and familiarise yourself with the location so that you can get efficiently treated if needed and get back to the holiday fun.
X