Wil Dubois

Happy Easter Weekend, Diabetes Friends!

Welcome back to Ask D'Mine, our weekly advice column hosted by veteran type 1 and diabetes author Wil Dubois in New Mexico, who has a number of years' experience as a clinical diabetes specialist. This week, Wil is hopping along with a special guest, to bring some special Easter-themed advice!

{Got your own questions? Email us at [email protected]}

 

The best solution to Holiday Diet Diabetes Woes (HDDW) is to be a friendless, childless, divorced orphan who lives off the grid in the wilds of Alaska. Such people have stellar diabetes control.

Of course, they also have a suicide rate nearly triple that of the national average.

So what are the rest of us to do? How do we fight HDDW? Actually, Easter dinner is easier on the insulin—whether you inject it, or whether your body still makes some of its own—than most other major holiday feasts. According to Uncle Google and the Food Network, the most popular Easter dinners feature glazed ham, orange baked ham, glazed baked ham (my eyes are starting to glaze over here), and finally garden-variety ham, then lamb crown or leg of lamb.

What’s glazing? It’s basically taking a healthy protein and swathing it in sugar. Great. This is not helping my thesis that Easter is easier on PWDs (people with diabetes) than other holidays, but bear with me. Actually, glazing is not as bad as it sounds, as only the outside of the meat is carbed-up. When the ham is sliced, the percentage of glazed-to-interior meat is quite small.

But it’s the Easter side dishes, unlike Thanksgiving with its carba-mundo stuffings and jellied high fructose corn syrup cranberry sauces, that are our Easter diabetes saviors. Carrots, being an Easter Bunny perennial favorite, often make an appearance at the Easter table, as do various green bean dishes, asparagus, and deviled eggs. And no, I refuse to take the bait and make a snarky comment about the Devil showing up to Easter dinner.

Even cheesy Easter scalloped potatoes aren’t as bad for you as other potato side dishes, as the fat in the cheese actually slows down the absorption of carbs, reducing the post-meal spike.

Of course, any Easter dessert is dangerous to diabetes, as all desserts are. But the solution here is to stuff yourself silly with the lower-carb main meal items, and be satisfied with a few bites of dessert. You don’t even have to worry about offending your host(ess) by playing the diabetes card. Instead say: 'Oh my gosh, that meal was sooooo good that I made a complete pig of myself and didn’t leave even a bit of room for dessert. Well, OK, a verrrrrry small slice, thank you very much.'

Actually, with a little discipline you’ll find that a bite or two of dessert is enough year-round. Our brains are hardwired to really dig sweets, but it doesn’t take a giant slice of pie with ice cream to scratch that itch. Learn to share desserts with loved ones, the more the merrier (the loved ones, not the desserts), and you’ll enjoy both life and good blood sugars year-round.

Now what makes Easter potentially dangerous, at least to our blood sugar, isn’t so much the holiday meal, which is totally manageable, but the associated kiddie parties and baskets of candy.

So here’s the deal: I don’t care what anyone else says, most candy simply can’t be “covered” with an insulin dose based on the carb count displayed on the label. It should work, but it doesn’t. The carbs are just too dense and too fast. Sugary Easter candy is the nuclear bomb of the Carb Nation. My advice is to particularly avoid jellybeans, which while they only clock in at one carb each, tend to be eaten by the handful, giving them a big punch for such little suckers. Instead look toward chocolate (which like the cheesy potatoes has some fat to slow things down) or marshmallow Peeps whose sugar-to-mass ratio is less than a jellybean, giving you more of a mouthful for the carb penalty. One peep has 7.5 carbs, and why would you need more than one?

Of course, the best plan is to avoid the stupid Easter basket candy altogether. Dump the candy into the trash and use the basket for what it’s intended for: As a carryall for the loot from an Easter egg hunt -- real eggs. Oh, and for what it’s worth, a traditional hard-boiled Easter egg has 6 grams of protein, only 5 grams of fat, a bunch of vitamins B12 and E, folic acid, iron, zinc, and no carbs.

Plus, barring yet another Nor’easter storm, most parts of the country should enjoy pretty good weather on Easter, making it a great day to get out and get some fresh air and exercise. What better way to do that than to participate in an Easter egg hunt? No age is too old for this game. In fact, in my family for a great many years, I hide the first round of eggs then my son re-hides them, and I go on the hunt. We have such fun with it we do round after round after round of hunts and counter-hunts until dinner.

Of course, as he’s gotten older, his hiding places have gotten more diabolical. It must be all those Deviled eggs he’s eating. (According to Professor Wikipedia, “deviled” is first used in reference to food in the 18th Century, and was applied to things that today we’d call wickedly hot!)

So that’s Dr. Cottontail’s HDDW simple solution for Easter: Eat smart, avoid too many sweets, and get your tail out on the egg hunt. All of which is just another way of saying you can control your Easter meal the same way many people control their diabetes: With diet and exercise. 

Happy Easter!

 

This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.