How to enjoy Christmas with Diabetes?

  • Try to fit in some physical activity over the Christmas period –shopping in the sales, a brisk walk with the grandchildren or dancing at a party all count. See also our keeping active guide.
  • Keep healthy snacks around the house so you have something else to snack on instead of chocolates and mince pies.
  • Try to eat fairly healthily on the days between Christmas and New Years to help prevent the pounds piling on too much.
  • Donate unwanted tins of biscuits and boxes of chocolates to your local hospice or care home.

What should I eat when travelling by plane?

Airlines can provide information on the times of most meals so you can plan your insulin. It is best to order the standard meal, though this may not supply you with enough carbohydrate if you are on insulin or certain diabetes tablets. Cabin crew are usually able to provide fruit, crackers or rolls.

On long flights, you may require snacks in between meals and at bedtime to prevent blood glucose levels going too low, so try to carry extra starchy carbohydrate foods, such as biscuits, cereal bars or fruit buns, on board the aircraft. For the journey, some people allow their blood glucose to run slightly higher than usual to avoid the inconvenience of hypos. If you are on insulin, monitor your blood glucose levels frequently and be prepared to make changes to your dosage.

If I have a hypoglycemic event while driving, what should I do?

If you have a hypoglycemic event  whilst driving:

  • Stop the vehicle as soon as possible
  • Switch off the engine, remove the keys from the ignition and move from the driver’s seat
  • Take some fast-acting carbohydrate, such as glucose tablets or sweets, and some form of longer-acting carbohydrate.
  • Do not start driving until 45 minutes after blood glucose has returned normal.

If you have poor warning signs, or have frequent hypos, you should probably not be driving because of the risk to yourself and others. Discuss this with your doctor. If he advises you to notify the DVLA/DVA you must do so. If you fail to do this, your doctor has an obligation to do so on your behalf.

I have to go through an X-ray machine at the airport, is it safe?

The advice given by the Civil Aviation Authority regarding pumps and scanners is as follows:

“There are a number of manufacturers of insulin pumps and unfortunately they do not all give the same advice. This varies from assurance that the pumps can safely go through any screening equipment, including X-ray equipment, to advice that the equipment may be affected by even the low-dose X-ray equipment used in some whole body scanners.”

“If you use an insulin pump, it is therefore important to contact the manufacturer of the particular pump that you use for advice. It is also sensible to contact your airline and the airports you will travel through, to find out their requirements if the manufacturer advises that your pump cannot go through some screening equipment.”

For pumps that are not able to pass through body scanners, the advice is as follows:

 “There are some airports where you will not be allowed to travel if you refuse to be scanned. It is therefore advisable to check with your airline and the airports you will be passing through to see if they do allow an alternative check.”

If your pump cannot pass through a scanner and the refusal to pass through will result in refusal to fly.