3 Hacks for a diabetes-friendly Christmas

Dec 11, 2023

We all know that if you have diabetes then you should be avoiding sugar. But knowing that sugar isn’t good for you is one thing, avoiding all the sweet treats, the mince pies, the parties and the meals out are a completely different matter!

Yet, thriving through Christmas with diabetes is not only possible but can be a time of celebration without compromising health. With a few strategic hacks, navigating this festive season while keeping blood sugar in check becomes not just manageable but an opportunity to savour every moment.

Here, we unveil three essential hacks that promise a diabetes-friendly Christmas filled with joy, good cheer, and balanced well-being!


Hack Number 1

Eat a green starter before your main meal. If you’re going out for a meal or a party where you’re likely to face sweet treats eat a bowl of green vegetables before you go.


A green starter can be any vegetables raw or cooked that are high in fibre. We aren’t eating enough fibre in the UK so adding this to any meal will increase the amount of these food which are protective to our bowels and health in general.


The fibre in vegetables creates a mesh around your intestines and slows down the absorption of what’s coming next, so the glucose releases more slowly into the blood. Choosing a salad as a starter when going out for food also works in the same way.


This can be as big as you like. Best eaten within two hours of the main meal and any vegetable would count, raw or cooked. Do not mash or juice. Eating the raw vegetable is better than a soup. (Shop brought soups will add potato or starch so be careful).

If you can add olive oil or vinegar as a dressing then all the better as this will help lower the glucose and insulin spike in the blood.

You are essentially eating more to protect your blood glucose levels.


Hack Number 2

Eat food in the right order. The order in which you eat carbohydrates, protein and fat can make a big difference to its effect on the blood sugar. Try to:

1/ Eat Fibre first

2/ Protein & Fat Second

3/ Starches and sugars last

Why is this? This works for the same reason as explained in the first hack. Let’s look at a Christmas dinner: if you can eat the vegetables first (avoiding potato or parsnips) then you will have the protective effect of the fibre on your gut.


One study (1) showed that if you eat food in this order the overall glucose spike is 73% less and the insulin spike is 48% less – this is true for those with diabetes and those without.

 Fibre also works to slow down gastric emptying meaning that food stays in the stomach for longer therefore adding to the feeling of fullness.

Fat & Protein would do the same. These foods will trigger the fullness hormones meaning you will feel fuller sooner than you would if you left these until last.

And by leaving the starches and glucose until the end, they will be the last to enter the intestines and will not have such a quick release of glucose into the blood stream as they would’ve if consumed first.


Hack Number 3

Sweet treats form an inevitable part of the Christmas celebrations. But choosing when to eat them is golden. Eating a slice of Christmas cake after a meal will have less of a spike than eating it on its own mid-morning or afternoon.


So, if you fancy a sweet treat then save it until after the meal when your belly has protein, fibre and fat in it as it will make a big difference to the glucose spike.


Remember that if you have a diagnosis of diabetes (or prediabetes) your pancreas is struggling to work at its best, so be kind! Hopefully with the first two hacks you will have less space for the chocolates and the puddings! Try not to let yourself go too much (especially for a prolonged period). Enjoy Christmas day and boxing day and then start clearing the boxes of chocolate – give them to others or donate them to a food bank. Remove the temptations as soon as you can to increase your chances of success.

If these hacks have piqued your interest, then I recommend reading the Glucose revolution book (Jessie Inchauspe) for more details and more hacks that could transform your health in 2024.


Merry Christmas all!

Nerys & The Lifestyle Clinic Team

(1) Shukla AP, Iliescu RG, Thomas CE, Aronne LJ. Food Order Has a Significant Impact on Postprandial Glucose and Insulin Levels. Diabetes Care. 2015 Jul;38(7):e98-9. doi: 10.2337/dc15-0429. PMID: 26106234; PMCID: PMC4876745.

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