Navigating holiday food markets with diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes Blog

Navigating holiday food markets with diabetes

The Christmas holiday season is finally here! This is probably my favorite time of year. An excuse to eat, drink and be merry. But with access to so much more wonderful foods in the form of Christmas parties, Christmas dinners, Christmas markets, how do we manage all these new carbohydrates with diabetes!? I always say practice makes perfect.

Whilst traveling during the Christmas season, I always find myself nearer Christmas markets. Whether it’s eating delicious Schneeballen snowballs at the German markets in Berlin, or sampling a Christmas dinner in a bun at the Belfast Christmas markets- I am always eating! So I thought I’d put together some tips on how to survive the holiday Christmas markets with diabetes!


1. Don’t forget you're exercising

Whilst walking around Christmas markets might not count as intense exercise, it’s still enough for small people to fall into hypo if they aren’t aware. If you are taking insulin for the treats you are sampling at the Christmas markets, be aware you may still need a little less if you are walking and eating rather than sitting down for a meal. Plus, if you do go a little low, at least you have access to different sweet treats to help bring that blood sugar back up!


2. Google carbs online

If you’re nervous about counting the carbohydrates of new foods, why not Google the most common foods that are available at a Christmas market and note the carbohydrate count. This way you can get a rough idea of what insulin you may need to take. This may seem like it takes the spontaneity of picking foods whilst you are there, but it doesn’t have to! We tend to navigate towards foods we like anyway. If you want to sample dishes, you can literally ask for a sample. It’s the same idea if you are going to a Christmas dinner. You are usually asked beforehand what you would like to eat, so you can request the menu and work out the carbohydrate count beforehand to make things a little more manageable.

If all else fails and you want to play it safe, just choose low-carb options. Cheese stalls, burger vans (without the bun), chicken stir-frys, Currywurst- all really great and delicious lower carb options!


3. Don’t forget about the effects of alcohol

Christmas markets also give us access to delicious mulled wine and German beers, but don’t forget that alcohol can significantly drop your blood sugar- usually over a delayed period of time. Therefore be wary when you are eating and drinking and walking, as it could all be a recipe for disaster if you give too much insulin. Don’t forget to have your medical ID with you- just in case you get carried away with the German beer tents!

Don't forget to enjoy yourself during the holidays. Just because you have diabetes doesn't mean you can't join everyone else in the season of over indulgence. Everything is great in moderation and being diabetic should never make you feel like you can't enjoy something. I certinaly eat a little more chocolate than normal on Christmas, along with an extra few glasses of champange, but it does not do my diabetes any harm because I monitor well and keep myself in check!


This is my last post for Diabetes Sisters. It’s been an absolute pleasure writing each month and I do hope you have enjoyed my posts! If there is anything I hope that you've got from reading my posts is that you should never let diabetes hold you back. Anything you want to achieve is still possible. There are good days, bad days and simply awful days, but it's all a unique journey. If anyone ever wants to contact me or hear more of my stories and tips, you can always check out my blog at Thank you and Merry Christmas!