Dr David Chaney, Diabetes UK Northern Ireland National Director, has written a letter of advice for people who struggle to manage the condition at Christmas.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high.
Those diagnosed need to eat healthily, take regular exercise and carry out regular blood tests to ensure that their blood glucose levels stay balanced.
Within his advice, Dr Chaney urged people not to buy expensive ‘diabetic’ chocolate.
He said: “If you are one of the 88,000 people in Northern Ireland living with diabetes, following a healthy lifestyle during the festive period can be a struggle, but it shouldn’t mean treats are off the table entirely.
“The occasional mince pie or piece of Christmas pudding is fine as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
“Buying expensive ‘diabetic’ Christmas cake or ‘diabetic’ chocolate is not recommended.
“This will soon be off shop shelves entirely as they offer no special health benefit to people with diabetes and can still affect blood glucose levels as they contain just as much fat and calories as the ordinary versions.
“It makes much more sense to have small amounts of traditional festive foods instead and balance that with healthier recipes and snacks.
“Staying active helps to manage your blood glucose levels as well as helping to shift those extra calories you might have eaten. So instead of settling in front of the TV after your meal, why not squeeze in a quick walk round the block or a longer stroll to the park – or even go out to the sales.
“One or two high blood glucose readings shouldn’t affect long-term diabetes control, but people should aim to avoid persistently high readings.”
Dr Chaney added: “This festive season our website is packed with ideas for easy ways to create healthier versions of your favourite Christmas dishes, nibbles and treats, and tips for keeping an eye on your calorie intake at parties and alcohol consumption.”
For more information go to www.diabetes.org.uk/enjoying-Christmas and www.diabetes.org.uk/enjoyfood.