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Diabetics can have a merry Christmas too.

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Being diabetic a few years back meant a diet of beans and cabbage. It meant eating food different from that of the rest of the family: watching as others enjoyed. Well, I’m here to say that you too can enjoy the Christmas, albeit with a few disclaimers.

The first of these is that alcohol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood glucose).  As cited by Kerryn Eades, an Australian- based dietitian, the liver stops to release glucose into the blood stream when it is metabolizing alcohol, effects that can last up to 24 hours after your last drink. Alcohol also impairs the ability to recognize hypoglycemia and interacts with diabetes medicine, therefore affecting their effectiveness. As such alcohol consumption should be kept to a minimum, taken with food and before bed.

Maintaining a healthy weight helps in controlling blood glucose levels.  Alcohol is however very high in energy and drinking large amounts regularly can lead to weight gain. One therefore needs to be watchful of quantities taken, and dilute alcoholic drinks with water, soda water, diet lemonade, or simply take low alcohol beers. It is also important to avoid topping up a drink before you have finished what is in the glass, to keep check of the quantities had.

Food that have high glycemic index are easily broken down to release glucose. These are the white and processed carbohydrates. Those with low glycemic index take a longer time to be broken down and are therefore best to serve: brown chapatti, whole meal flour, tubers and less processed foods. Also, in the event you want to indulge in a dessert or a sweet, you must factor it in as you serve your starches so that you have no more than you need.

Remember it’s a portion of carbohydrates, of proteins, and a lot of vegetables.

Christine Nderitu

Licensed Nutritionist and Public Health Practitioner, Christine, helps people lead healthy lifestyles through health education and behaviour change practices that are simple and practical. She writes a weekly (Monday) nutrition column in the People Daily and is experienced in nutrition management, research, health education and promotion in; HIV/AIDS, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Maternal and Child Health and Non-Communicable Diseases. She has been engaged in these activities since 2011. Christine feels the world needs more stories that celebrate and normalize desired (good) behaviour. And humanity-we have many preventable and often manmade public health issues today.