If you are one of the 3 million people in the UK living with diabetes, following a healthy lifestyle at Christmas can be hard work, but it doesn’t mean traditional festive foods should be forbidden. As with everyone else, people with diabetes can include the occasional high fat or high sugar food like mince pies or Christmas pudding as part of a healthy diet.

To help people manage their diabetes over the festive season, Diabetes UK has a special section on our website which is packed with tips, guidance and recipes. There is also handy advice about food at parties, safe guidelines for alcohol consumption and information on how to swap to healthier options of favourite Christmas dishes, nibbles and treats.

Diabetes UK is also recommending that people with diabetes and it’s worth their family and friends knowing not to buy ‘diabetic’ foods such as ‘diabetic’ Christmas cake or ‘diabetic’ chocolate. Diabetic foods offer no special benefit to people with diabetes and will still affect blood glucose levels. These foods can contain just as much fat and calories as the ordinary versions, can have a laxative effect and can be expensive. It makes much more sense to have small amounts of ordinary festive foods instead and balance this with healthier recipes and snacks.

The other important thing to remember is to stay active, which will help to manage blood glucose levels – for example, taking a wintery walk or trying ice skating. One or two high readings shouldn’t affect long-term diabetes control, but people should aim to avoid persistently high readings. For more information go to www.diabetes.org.uk/enjoying-Christmas

Merry Christmas,

1. Diabetes UK is the leading UK charity that cares for, connects with and campaigns on behalf of all people affected by and at risk of diabetes. For more information on all aspects of diabetes and access to Diabetes UK activities and services, visit www.diabetes.org.uk 

2. In the UK, there are around 3.8 million people who have diabetes. There are 3 million people living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and around 850,000 more who have Type 2 diabetes but don’t know they have it because they haven’t been diagnosed. As many as 7 million people are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and if current trends continue, an estimated 5 million people will have diabetes by 2025.
3. Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose in the blood because the body cannot use it properly. If not managed well, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can lead to devastating complications. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in people of working age in the UK and is a major cause of lower limb amputation, kidney failure and stroke.
4. People with Type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin. About 10 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 1. No one knows exactly what causes it, but it’s not to do with being overweight and it isn’t currently preventable. It usually affects children or young adults, starting suddenly and getting worse quickly. Type 1 diabetes is treated by daily insulin doses – taken either by injections or via an insulin pump – a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
5. People with Type 2 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin or the insulin they produce doesn’t work properly (known as insulin resistance). 85 to 90 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 2. They might get Type 2 diabetes because of their family history, age and ethnic background puts them at increased risk. They are also more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if they are overweight. It starts gradually, usually later in life, and it can be years before they realise they have it. Type 2 diabetes is treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity. In addition, tablets and/or insulin can be required.
6. For more information on reporting on diabetes, download our journalists’ guide: www.diabetes.org.uk/journalists-guide

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Source: Diabetes UK