Practical Tips for Diabetics on Managing Your Diet This Christmas

Christmas and festival celebrations offers many opportunities to splurge and overeat pack on those extra pounds and have out of control blood glucose levels.. It can also be a stressful and busy time creating motivation to break your diet. We asked Maunelva Taylor-Benjamin, Nutrition Officer in the Ministry of Health and a member of the Montserrat Diabetes Association so share some strategies to stay on track this Christmas.

The nutritionist noted that during this season people tend to eat at different times as they may be attending more functions or visiting with people who may not know your specific dietary needs. The added temptation of cakes, puddings, and more sweets than we usually see all year can be an added challenge to eat the right foods.

You can eat foods you love but consume smaller portions.

While it is important to enjoy the season, those living with diabetes know that managing this disease can be a challenge at the best of times, so it becomes even more critical that you eat well and manage your diabetes through the holidays.

Taylor-Benjamin suggests the following:

  • If you limit the number of calories you consume each day, you can add your favourite holiday foods. Practice portion control and remember small portions are less likely to upset blood sugar levels.
  • Eat a healthy snack before going out to avoid overindulging. Examples include a fresh fruit, a bowl of whole grain cereal or a handful of nuts.
  • Plan for including your holiday favourites (sorrel, fruit cake) and skip those foods you can do without. Eat smaller servings of these special treats that you must have.
  • Limit alcohol which adds calories but no nutritional value to your meal plan. Alternate between alcoholic and non- alcoholic beverages and water. Bear in mind – do not drink on an empty stomach and do not drink alcohol with soda, ginger ale or juice.
  • Put sauces, dressing and gravies on the side. They add flavour but also add calories and fat. For stuffing, use nuts and fruits instead of giblets and other meats.
  • Try taking small bites and eat slowly. Try to enjoy your food and the people around you.
  • A healthy holiday meal should have two thirds or more of vegetables and fruits, whole grains and beans, one third meats and other animal source foods, and one third carbohydrates or starches preferable those high in fibre.

“Remember diabetes control needs a complete package of diet, exercise and medication. Stick to your meal plan and talk to your health care providers to form a strategy for facing holiday meals and temptations.”




Over the next 2 weeks we will provide some tips to help you
keep well while enjoying your holiday eating.

1. Eat moderately – holidays are times to celebrate with food
–be mindful of the foods which contain carbohydrates and
plan your meals accordingly.

2. Holiday recipes are loaded with sugar and fat a recipe for
blood sugar chaos. Make holiday recipes healthier by
cutting down on the amount of fats and sugars in them.

3. Avoid holiday grazing. Calories eaten while tasting foods or
when mingling adds up. So sit down and enjoy an entire

4. Skip the second helpings –Limiting portions is the key to
controlling blood sugar levels.

5. Find treats that work. Choose ones lower in carbohydrates;
eat smaller servings; or substitute it for other carbohydrate
in the meal; then indulge away.

6. Put sauces, dressings and gravies on the side. They add
flavour but also add calories and fat.

Good blood sugar means that you will feel better and that is
important over the busy holiday season. Thank you for
listening and remember to tune in next week for more tips.
Have a wonderful season of holiday eating.


Today I continue with 6 more useful tips to help you eat well
and enjoy Christmas with diabetes.

1. Plan ahead – know where you are going and what you will
be doing. Have a small snack before leaving the house. This
will take the edge off your hunger and make you less likely
to crave unhealthy foods and to overeat.

2. Exercise, exercise, exercise – Set aside time for regular
exercise and find something to laugh about – this relieves
tension, improves your mood, reduces stress and lowers
your blood glucose levels.

3. Limit alcoholic beverages. Alcohol contains calories. And
carbohydrates especially when chased with soda, ginger ale
or juice. Alcohol also lowers your inhibitions, making it
harder to say no to foods you would not otherwise eat.

4. Eat wisely – Practice portion control. Limit the number of
calories you consume each day, be conscious of your fat and
protein intake – these will reduce the impact on your blood
sugar levels.

5. Be prepared – always have medication, quick acting sugar
sources handy and make sure those near you know what to
do in case of an emergency.

6. Finally, Focus on the reason for the season, rather than on
the foods and the extra treats.