Do yourself a favour this Christmas and holiday period and do a detox. And by that, I mean cleanse and purge anything that suggests people with diabetes need to change our behaviour or feel guilty for daring to enjoy sharing a meal with family and friends.
There are a lot of those stories out there and annoyingly, social media algorithms keep pushing ‘How to be a responsible person with diabetes at Christmas’ articles to me. I wouldn’t be worried if being responsible included making sure I ate enough of my mum’s divine zippoli or kept the Bellinis flowing, but instead, it seems to be all about restricting portions and sipping flavourless drinks (water), and making sure I don’t throw diabetes or weight management plans out the window. Apparently, Christmas is as good a time as any to reinforce diet culture, demand food restriction and push punitive portion policing on PWD. Such tidings of comfort and joy!
People with diabetes have every right to celebrate festive meal without being made to feel judged or that our choices are being scrutinised. Our diabetes; our rules including what and how much we eat (or don’t eat). If I want to eat panettone for breakfast every day for the next month, it’s no one else’s business. What I don’t want is suggestions such as: ‘Overcome the urge for a candy cane, by brushing your teeth with peppermint toothpaste. Twice!’. Or ‘101 Ways to Enjoy Ice Chips: The Ultimate Low-Carb Snack’. Or ‘Chew on a cinnamon stick. It’s all the flavour of a spiced cookie without the enjoyment!’ Good tidings…unless you have diabetes.
Another theme that I see is the patronising reassurance that it’s okay for people with diabetes to ‘overindulge’. Cloaking assurances in passive aggressive pats on the head about how we’re allowed a ‘day off’ is unhelpful and perpetuates guilt. How about instead we accept and recognise that people (ALL people!) may eat more when celebrations are centred around food, and normalise it rather than make us feel bad for doing what everyone else is doing?
If we must be forced to read articles about surviving the silly season, it would be great if there was some merriment in there. It is possible! I did it here. And also in the article I’m sharing below that I wrote for Circle Magazine a few years back. Just some authentic musings about real life with diabetes, embracing the season with comfort and joy.
Insulin for Life is once again running their Secret Santa campaign. All donations go to support the charities efforts in supporting people with diabetes in under-resourced counties. If you’re able to donate, please do so here.