Navigating Easter with type 1 diabetes
Easter: the holiday that is celebrated with sugar and carbohydrates. Hot cross buns and chocolate eggs glisten and gleam on supermarket shelves and family traditions like the Easter egg hunt call. Here are my tips and tricks for navigating Easter foods, enjoying the holiday, and avoiding a weekend of high blood glucose levels: Let Cadbury do the carb counting for you Many patients tell me that having to weigh, measure and carbohydrate count food can take the fun out of actually eating it. If you’re planning to eat chocolate this Easter let the nutrition information panel do the work for you, by choosing smaller, individually-wrapped eggs or bunnies instead of breaking up large ones into pieces that need weighing for an accurate carbohydrate count. Mini eggs are a good example – check the number of eggs per serving and use the ‘per-serve’ carbohydrate count on the nutrition information panel - no maths or scales required! Small eggs mean smaller BG fluctuations Dr Richard Bernstein, author of low-carbohydrate book ‘Dr Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution’, discusses ‘The Law of Small Numbers’: smaller inputs (of carbohydrate and therefore insulin) lead to small error margins, leading to smaller swings in blood glucose. Essentially, bringing down the volume of sugar and carbohydrate consumed means we can manage insulin more tightly, which can help avoid big spikes and crashes. It’s hard to marry up insulin doses and timing with a chocolate spike with both sugar and fat in play, so rather than hit a gigantic chocolate bunny all at once, consider playing it safe with smaller, individual eggs spaced out over time. Your Easter stash lasts longer that way too! Make your Easter carbs count Choose wisely when you eat your carbohydrate over the Easter weekend. If you do want a chocolate treat, consider making your meals lower in carbohydrates. Remember, smaller inputs mean smaller error margins, and working with a more stable blood glucose baseline before throwing chocolate into the mix can make insulin dosing easier. Plan to get your chocolate fix between, rather than with, meals to avoid dealing with multiple active insulin doses and other foods that may impact digestion and absorption. Take Easter into your own hands If you feel like doing a little something eggstra-special, why not make your own lower-carb eggs and bunnies using reduced-sugar or dark chocolate in inexpensive chocolate moulds from shops like Spotlight or Target? Or, for a different type of sweet treat, there are some terrific low-carb biscuit recipes out there (check out this list from I Breathe I’m Hungry for 75 of the best!) which would look great in Easter shapes with fun cookie cutters! If baking from scratch isn’t your thing, Anna’s Low Carb Kitchen and 180 Cakes have easy packet mixes you can whip up in no time at all. For more egg-cellent Easter alternatives, the Ditch the Carbs website has two pages of DIY low carb Easter treats to explore - the sugar-free chocolate peanut butter eggs look divine! Think like the Swedes I lived in Sweden for nine years and loved the Swedish Påsk tradition of filling hollow cardboard eggs with treats. If you want to limit the amount of chocolate your kids receive this Easter, consider doing as the Swedes do and creating an exciting, sugar-free twist on Easter tradition. IKEA sells the large Swedish 'ägg' for $2 and Kmart have a 21 pack of plastic hollow eggs for $5. This year my daughter’s Påsk ägg will be filled with a sequinned bunny Beanie Boo toy. Check out the colourful Påsk äggs in the image below! Happy Easter, type 1 tribe! Wishing you a weekend of sunshine, time with friends and family, and stable blood glucose levels.