Oh, Hanukkah! with Diabetes
Handling the holidays with diabetes savvy.
with Amy Tenderich
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
December 2008 — It's December, and ‘tis the season for holiday madness. By madness I mean too much of everything, which tends to wreak havoc on your diabetes management. Just because I'm Jewish, and don't celebrate Christmas, don't think for a minute that I'm immune to this insanity!
As my blogger friend Allison writes: this season is all about "the stress of finding the perfect gift, the hoards of people pushing and shoving, long lines at the airports, overcooking the turkey, Christmas music that starts on Halloween … and of course, for those of us with diabetes, it's a non-stop carb fest from the fourth week of November until well after the New Year's… Blood sugars bounce off the walls with the constant influx of chocolates, cookies, carb-filled mashed potatoes, stuffing and my personal favorite: candied yams and marshmallows. Control? What control?"
Ditto, Allison. Spot on! But now imagine throwing in Eight Nights of (supposedly) Joy. Setting the whole food issue aside for a moment, here's why I find Hanukkah so damn hard:
First, it sometimes comes so early in December that we're ripping the turkey decorations off the walls in a scramble to "get festive."
The reason for that is this darn holiday is all over the secular map, because it falls on the 25th day of the month of Kislev, in an ancient Jewish calendar that was never "standardized" with a leap year correction. So sometimes on Dec. 2, we're pasting up the paper dreidels on the walls, and mixing up holiday cookie batter before I've even finished clearing up the kitchen fallout from Thanksgiving.
Secondly, did I mention that I have three children? That means shopping for and wrapping – and attempting to hide – presents for 3 kids times 8 nights. You do the math. I'm too exhausted just thinking about it!
And third of all, in this modern life we live, who has time to set aside everything and cook a festive meal for EIGHT NIGHTS IN A ROW? Everybody in our family is invited to various holiday parties or performances, and still has work /school/ daily obligations to deal with, so it's tough just gathering everyone together for the evening, for an entire week-plus running. Being the Mom around here, it's always me who ends up feeling guilty if every night of Hanukkah isn't "special."
And then there's the food. Traditional Jewish food is heavy on carbs and fat anyway. But on Hanukkah, we make a special effort to clog our arteries by focusing on foods cooked in oil (to commemorate the miracle of the holy lamp oil that lasted for eight days.)
Taking center stage are potato pancakes fried in oil, known as Latkes. These are traditionally eaten topped with sour cream or apple sauce, depending on your region of Jewish origin. Of course we also eat pot roasts and veggies on Hanukkah, but it's really not considered a Hanukkah meal without the Latkes. And they're basically blobs of carbohydrate that absorb oh-so-slowly in your system due to all that fat. OMG, what an insulin dosing challenge!
Looking for some help, I Googled "diabetes and Hanukkah" and found – surprise, surprise – about 100,000 sites for recipes. Ugh! But eventually I stumbled on this formula for calculating the carb count of Latkes:
1) Weigh the entire batch of Latkes you make (result will be something like 477 grams)
2) Divide the total number of carbs in the recipe (ca. 72.7 grams) by the weight (477 g) to get the amount of carbohydrate in one gram.
GREAT. Could this be any more complicated? (Really, will I know exactly how many grams I eat?!) So now I can add "Latke Carb Calculus" to my list of holiday stresses! Sheesh.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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