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Valentine's Day the Sugar-Free Way

Valentine’s Day can present a special challenge for people with diabetes. Stores are stocked with elaborate displays of sweets, and celebrating the holiday tends to involve giving or receiving chocolate. All of this may make people with diabetes feel excluded, or worse, tempted to indulge in too many sweet treats. Fortunately, there are healthy ways to enjoy Valentine’s Day if you have diabetes.

Remember the purpose of the holiday. Valentine’s Day is about spending time with the people you love, and there are lots of ways to do that without involving chocolate or other foods high in sugar. So instead of thinking of Valentine’s Day as a day you’ll miss out on, think of it as a day you’ll really be able to enjoy simply by focusing on its actual meaning.

Get the facts. When you crave something sweet, it is helpful to check out the nutrition information for each serving of the food item in question. Getting the facts about the food or dessert item may help you figure out how you can work a small portion of it into your food plan for the day without disrupting your blood glucose levels, or it may make you re-think having to adjust your whole routine for just one small item. Either way, it is important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks and always keep blood glucose in control, and always consult your dietitian.

Make smart substitutions. Want something sweet but don’t want to disrupt your glucose readings? Find a healthy recipe that feels more indulgent than it really is. There are many options for enjoying healthy treats without consuming too many carbohydrates, but you have to do your homework. Check out Joslin’s Recipe of the Week, or do some research on the Internet to find dietitian-approved recipes that are healthy, and low in fat and carbohydrates. Also, you may want to work with your registered dietitian to create some healthy dessert substitutions to keep on hand.

Find an alternative way to celebrate. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about eating. Plan an alternative Valentine’s Day celebration in advance that doesn’t revolve around food, such as going to see a movie, doing something outdoors, or planning a day trip. By avoiding those situations where you feel left out or pressured to eat, you’ll develop a new Valentine’s Day tradition, and keep your blood glucose in control, too.

Don’t forget kids. If your child has type 1 diabetes, it is important to be aware that his or her classroom can be hard to navigate on Valentine’s Day. Touch base with your child’s teacher ahead of time to find out if he or she will be allowing candy. If candy will be present in the classroom, be sure to discuss how to handle the situation with the school nurse and your child’s teacher. Last, but certainly not least, talk to your child about what to do about candy in the classroom on Valentine’s Day, and make sure he or she understands that a teacher will be there for help if needed.

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Page last updated: July 28, 2014