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Blog: Sugar and spice

Less than a month to go until Christmas now and everywhere around us we see festive fare, both in the form of foodstuffs and gifts.

What is your advice to your patients with diabetes as they prepare to celebrate Christmas? What do you say about what they might eat over the Christmas season, with parties and other events? Where do you go for resources for yourself and your patients?

Since I wrote my last blog, I have started working with Diabetes UK as one of their Clinical Advisors, and have become much more aware of information available for patients to help them with eating and other activities. On the Diabetes UK website at there is a whole section under the heading of Managing your Diabetes, called Healthy Eating, where there is lots of practical advice.

How many of you are professional members of Diabetes UK? How many of you tell your patients about Diabetes UK and the resources it can offer to those with Diabetes as well as their families and carers? Use of the website is free, and you do not have to become members to access their wealth of advice, but joining can have added benefits, both for you and your patients. Also, if you are aware that patients are not conversant with computer technology, there are leaflets that can be downloaded or ordered at little cost to your practice, to provide for your patients.

Just last week the Enjoy Food campaign was launched by Diabetes UK in partnership with Tesco; again there are downloadable materials for both patient and healthcare professionals to help you in teaching and guiding your patients. Patients often feel that eating once they have diabetes is full of restrictions, but these resources want to help patients see that they can enjoy food within certain limitations.

There is lots of information on the different food groups and how they should be balanced, and there's advice about understanding food labels. When I was working in general practice I often used to give patients a 'know your labels' leaflet, which folded up to the size of a credit card, and gave useful tips about how to gauge how much sugar or fat was in a product. There is similar advice available on the website, that is simple to understand.

The Enjoy Food section on the website also gives advice as to how to adapt regular recipes to make them healthier. If you are also working with obese patients, these resources may well be of help to them, and help them in making healthier choices.

Working at Diabetes UK is providing me with a different perspective on the management of those with diabetes as I am now working to help the wider population.

When you next have a few minutes, have a look at the Diabetes UK website, and see what you think of the resources there.

What is your favourite source of information on diabetes and where do you go to access materials for patients? Why not share your tips with other nurses.