Diabetes and Christmas

During the Christmas and New Year period it is easy to indulge due to the masses of food and drink we are surrounded with.

Diabetes and christmas

While there is no need to feel guilty about enjoying Christmas, it’s important to remind you that the average person in the UK consumes about 7000 calories on Christmas day alone. On normal days, most of us consume about 2500 calories – so during Christmas, we eat about three times as much as we need!


  • think about your portion sizes
  • think about your food and drink choices
  • You can still celebrate as much as anyone else.   Celebration and enjoyment is not just dependent on food.   Your family, friends and being surrounded by people you love in a cheerful environment is what makes a happy Christmas – not just the food!

Top Tips for a healthy Christmas!

  • Maintain a regular eating pattern based on 3 balanced meals per day to help manage appetite and avoid overeating.
  • Plan healthy snacks between meals such as fruit, vegetables and low fat dip or a small handful of unsalted nuts.
  • When having nibbles, reduced fat crisps, plain popcorn and pretzels are lower calorie alternatives but separate them into individual portions so as to not overeat.
  • Stick to sugar free or diet drinks or sparkling water.
  • Eat slowly – allow time to enjoy the taste of the food.
  • Encourage moderate portion sizes and healthy courses such as melon, smoked salmon or vegetable soup for starters.
  • When eating out avoid having 3 courses – try sharing a starter or dessert or have a hot drink in place of dessert.
  • Fill up on plenty of salad and vegetables – avoid adding butter and salt. Be careful not to add lots of dressings or mayonnaise.
  • Eat sensibly leading up to Christmas and in between Christmas and New Year. Plan ahead to ensure healthy snacks and meals are to hand.
  • Buffet or parties ideas – Take time choosing food, use a smaller plate and limit pastries. Sit away from the buffet table.
  • Christmas dinner – Make stuffing out of fruit and chestnuts rather than sausage meat and try mince pies without a lid.
  • Don’t worry about 1 or 2 high glucose readings over Christmas but aim to avoid persistently high readings.

Tipsy tips – Alcohol

It’s usually the little extras that pile on calories, especially alcohol. Remember, drinks have calories too!

  • Stick to the recommended limits for alcohol consumption,
    • Men = 21 units per week, 3-4 units per day with 2 alcohol free days
    • Women = 14 units per day, 2-3 units per day with 2 alcohol free days.
    • Remember, 1 unit of alcohol is equivalent to about 100Kcal
    • LARGE GLASS OF WINE = 220 Kcal
    • PINT BEER – 250 KCal
  • Try adding non-alcoholic drinks to your alcoholic drinks
    • Make wine a spritzer by mixing with diet lemonade or soda
    • Make beer a shandy by mixing with diet lemonade
    • Try alternating alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones. Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.
    • And remember to use sugar free or ‘diet’ mixers instead of full sugar soft drinks.
  • If there are a lot of Christmas parties to go to, try not to drink alcohol at all of them or take the car so you can’t drink.
  • Remember not to drink on an empty stomach.  Eat first.
  • Alcohol can cause hypoglycaemia in people treated with insulin and some tablets eg. Sulphonylureas. These patients should ensure they have a snack before bed and ensure that the people they are out with know they have diabetes.


We are all going to indulge a little over the holidays. Whether patients have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, some activity helps keep blood glucose under control and can help to manage weight.

  • Building in 30 minutes of activity most days will help control blood glucose levels and minimise weight gain.
  • Wrap up warm and go for a walk after lunch.
  • Or dance the night away at the office Christmas party.
  • Any exercise will help control diabetes from sledging to ice skating or walking to shovelling snow.
  • Just do something, no matter how little.

Above all enjoy yourself!

Christmas is a great time to eat, drink and be merry – following the tips in this bulletin can help patients to have a good time without overindulging.  Remember to avoid diabetic food products as they are no better for blood glucose than the regular variety.

If you are a diabetic patient with Ashford Medical partnership, we can give you access to the mydiabetes app which is a great support tool for you and also allows us to monitor your health and goals, all from your phone!




Published: Oct 4, 2021