“Arrrrgh!” Do you find yourself saying this a lot over the festive season? Do you avoid going to work or family parties because it’s easier than facing the dreaded temptation of decadent sweets and honey-glazed ham that you know you shouldn’t touch?
At some point or another you may have secretly dreaded Christmas. Yes, all the presents and all the holidays are great, but let’s face it, if you can’t sink your teeth into some decadent food over the festive season, there’s really not much joy to be had!
You may as well wave the white flag and hand over the day to the Diabetes Grinch who stole your Christmas!
It doesn’t have to be that way. I’m not about to give you the holy grail to cure your diabetes – I think that would be the ultimate present all of us have on the top of our Christmas list, but here is a sneak peak at my festive family lunch and some tips that I swear by to help me get through the temptations, while still managing having an awesomely delicious day!
Over the years my family have developed a go-to menu that has pretty much become our staple for all festive lunches. Fusion is the best way to describe it, because it has a little bit of Ukrainian inspired food – a nod to our heritage, and then a whole lot of traditional favourites of ham and of course the Aussie seafood!
Every year I can’t wait for:
- Salt and pepper squid – my sister goes all out and makes this from scratch which is delicious! And because the squid is only dusted with flour, not dripping in batter, it’s not carb-heavy.
- Pickled herrings and rye bread (this is the nod to Ukraine, but as an alternative you can do smoked salmon on thin crackers)
- Condiments of pickled cucumbers and salami (again a Uki favourite, but you can serve fresh veggies with an assortment of dips).
- A baked ham (yes granted this is coated in your typical sugary glaze, but don’t loose hope, I’ll give you some tips on how to enjoy this without the guilt, so keep reading)
- Prawn and mango salad with vinaigrette dressing (so simple, it’s just lettuce, sliced mango, avocado, prawns and walnuts, and a lemon juice, olive oil and French or Dijon mustard dressing – dead easy)
- Whole baked salmon (this is divine, so succulent and carb free – YAYA, my favourite!!!!!
- Potato salad (this is the Ukrainian element again. You could use low carb potatoes to cut down on the carbs)
- My mum’s very sweet Christmas Cake
- My sister’s crazy, huge pavlova – big enough to feed a whole village
- Fruit platter
Dessert is definitely not diabetic-friendly, but stay tuned, I’ll share my secrets on how to get the most out of your dessert without crying in the corner as you watch everyone else devour loads of yummy sweets.
I can’t say no to an ice cold bubbly glass of champagne at Christmas time …. ok maybe two! I don’t drink much though, which can be handy when you’re trying to cut down on carbs and unnecessary calories.
Sugar free alcoholic drinks, like sugar free vodka cruisers, are also another great alternative if you want to cut down on unnecessary spikes in your blood sugar.
Spritzers are a yummy option – half wine, half soda water. This is really refreshing on a hot day and with spritzers you can have your alcohol without going crazy.
Who can go past an ice-cold juice? Fruit juice with ice is so yummy, but let’s face it most of us have a stash of the stuff on our bedside tables to boost our BGL when we’re having a hypo, so the last thing I want to do when my bloods are stable, is down glasses of juice.
But wait. You don’t have to say no altogether. Why not try a juice spritzer, this time with half juice and half soda water? You can even jazz this up with some freshly sliced lemon or lime!
Tips for a diabetic-friendly festive feast
Ok, so here are my tricks to keeping on top of my bloods and avoiding the Diabetes Grinch.
- I always do a test before the drive to Christmas lunch. If I’m high, I always give myself a bit of short acting to bring my blood sugar level down before I arrive. This way I’m ready to eat!
- I then do a test before I’m ready to eat just to make sure my blood sugars are on track.
- Once I’m ready to get stuck into the yummy food, I make sure I take my insulin 15 mins before eating, just to give it a chance to work before I launch into the carbs. That is, unless I’m low, in which case I dose up and pretty much start eating straight away – I wait for no one 🙂
- I avoid too many carbs for entree. If I pack in a lot of carbs from the get-go, I find I’m pretty much setting my self up for an epic fail when it comes to stabilising my blood sugars.
- For the main course, I LOVE my Christmas ham and there is no way in the world I could forego it!! But, at the same time, I don’t love it enough to face a BGL of 20 all afternoon. So, all I do is look for the bits of ham that are hidden in the pile of succulent cuts, that don’t have much glaze. Even better, I cut off the fatty glazed layer as I really don’t like to eat the fat anyway, so for me this isn’t really a big loss. For a guilt free version, try my Diabetic friendly turkey or ham glaze.
- Pile on the low carb foods and limit the high carb options. I pile on the salmon and salad (but not too much mango) and limit the potato.
- Dessert is a bit more challenging, because as much as my family are a great support, when it comes to cake, it’s literally every ‘man or himself’. My parents don’t bake diabetic-friendly sweets, so for dessert, I bring my own sweet treat. If you’re stuck for ideas, try my diabetic-friendly Christmas Cake. Or, take advantage of the beautiful summer cherries and try my diabetic-friendly Mini Cherry Frangipane Cakes.
- If I don’t feel like cake, I’ll just have some fruit and a much-needed coffee. I’m always in charge of bringing the fruit platter, which I enjoy making, as I get to choose all the yummy summer fruits! My trick for fruit platters is going with lower carb options such as rockmelon, watermelon and loads of berries like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. These are lower in carbs and are low GI.
- Get active after lunch. I can’t stand to sit around all day, especially on a full tummy. So, it’s become a tradition to get active after lunch. I’m lucky because my sister has a pool, so every year without fail, I’m the first one to get in and test the water. Or I love to just run around outside with my kids and try out their new toys!
The festive season is a time to be merry and this can be challenging when you have diabetes, but with a few simply tricks, you can kick the Diabetes Grinch goodbye!
Make it work for you. Create a festive menu to suit you. Christmas get-togethers are for everyone to enjoy and you don’t have to miss out just because you have diabetes!
Merry Christmas and bon appetit!