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The Big Jubilee Lunch


This year there’ll be a four-day bank holiday weekend from Thursday 2 June to Sunday 5 June, to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

The Queen has a special relationship with us at Diabetes UK as our patron, and recently wrote to us to mark the 100th anniversary of the first successful treatment with insulin.

Buffets and party food can be a challenge when it comes to managing your blood sugar levels. But having diabetes doesn’t mean you should miss out on the party. 

Street party celebrations

In the UK, we have a long history of organised street parties to celebrate national events.

This year the Big Jubilee Lunch, which is encouraging communities to mark the occasion, is expecting at least 12 million people to take part in a shared meal, street party or ‘street meet’, where neighbours get together in a garden or on a driveway so the road doesn’t have to be closed to traffic.

This is just one of lots of celebrations taking place over the long weekend – you can read more about the events planned.

You don’t need a licence to hold a street party either – you can read the guidelines on the website.

Events like these tend to revolve around food, and these occasional treats shouldn’t affect your diabetes management too much. 

But over time, too many unhealthy foods can affect your blood sugar levels and overall diabetes management, and buffet-style eating can make it harder to manage how you eat. So, we’ve put together some ideas to help your celebrations go with a swing…

How to have a healthier street party

It can be tempting to eat more than you intended when you see a wide selection of delicious foods at a buffet, but try to scope out the options and choose what appeals rather than having a ‘bit of everything’.

From playing games to going for a walk, try to combine your party with some physical activity to maximise the health benefits and have even more fun.

Try using a smaller plate and filling half with vegetables or salad. Choose lean protein such as chicken, eggs, and tuna, and high-fibre wholegrain carbs like wholemeal pasta and bread. 

Salads and sandwiches

Wholegrain varieties of starchy carbs such as brown rice or wholewheat pasta in salads and wholegrain bread for sandwiches will be less likely to spike your blood sugar. Leave the skin on new potatoes for added fibre too. 

For cold meats, try leaner options such as chicken or turkey breast rather than salami or ham.

You can add some crunch to sandwiches with extra veggies such as pepper, carrot, cucumber and lettuce.

For salads, try using beans and pulses to increase the protein content and make it more filling.

Celebrate safely

If you’re drinking alcohol, be aware that this can actually drop your blood sugar levels over time, especially if you're dancing or doing other physical activity. If you treat your diabetes with insulin or medications that can cause hypos, consider having some food or carby snacks to go with your alcoholic drinks.

Alcohol is dehydrating, so sip on non-added sugar squashes or diet drinks in between alcoholic drinks. Or you could simply add mint or lemon to water. 

Read more about alcohol and diabetes.

We’re all hoping for some sunny weather, but hot weather can impact your blood sugar levels, so check out our top tips for keeping safe in the sun

Other snacks

Why not make your own dips, dressings and marinades? This way you will avoid the potentially high fat, sugar and salt content from shop-bought varieties.

Instead of ordinary crisps, try wholegrain rice cakes, rye crackers, oven-baked or air popped crisps or bread sticks, which can have less saturated fat. 

Substitute mayonnaise with low-fat yogurt in dressings. 

Sweet treats 

Although tempting, try not to sample every sweet option at once – you’ll enjoy them far more as a treat. Or you could swap sugary and fatty treats such as cake and crisps for healthier alternatives – mixed nuts, fruit, and popcorn make great replacements.

You could also serve healthier sweet options such as a fresh fruit salad, plain yogurt and fruit, sugar free jelly or fruit kebabs.

You can still enjoy cake – just try and cut smaller slices. 

Read more about baking and diabetes, and try a healthier version of a classic chocolate cake

Carb counting 

If you match your carbs to your insulin dose, you’ll know that with so many things affecting your blood sugar levels, carb counting is never going to be an exact science. It's your best estimate. But by making small, regular checks and tweaks, you can stay on top of it. 

Apps like Carbs And Cals or My Fitness Pal can help you estimate your carb intake.

It’s a good idea to think about what else is in the food other than the carb. Ask yourself, is there a lot of protein, fat or fibre which will slow down your body's digestion of the carbs and possibly affect your insulin dose?

A lot of cheesy topping on a pizza can mean it takes longer for the carbs from the base to enter your bloodstream. It's quite common for people to be lower than expected soon after eating pizza, and high a few hours after if the release of glucose doesn't quite match the action of your insulin. 

Talk to your diabetes specialist nurse (DSN) and dietitian about how to account for different foods and for individual advice on managing your diabetes at celebratory events.

This article is adapted from an article in Balance magazine, our exclusive magazine for members. If you’d be interested in receiving Balance and more member-only benefits, find out more here.

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