Easter and Diabetes

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Easter and diabetes sound like they clash but the reality is there are some really very healthy options that can help any diabetic celebrate in style.

Ever since our grandson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes we are constantly reinventing family celebrations.

We have found some really fun ideas that have become a fun part of Easter celebrations for us.

I know Easter is all about the egg hunt and the chocolate bunnies but really there really are some fun ways to enjoy Easter without overindulging and driving those blood sugars through the roof.

So how do we celebrate Easter?

We start with a healthy breakfast

Easter and Diabetes - coloured hard boiled eggs

We like to get together with the grandkids on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. When we get together I will hard boil a dozen eggs.

When the grandkids come over we like to decorate the hard-boiled eggs.

We use food colouring and small craft paintbrushes. Sometimes we use markers and draw silly faces on the eggs.

It is such a fun way to have fun with the grandkids and the eggs will be a part of our Easter morning breakfast.

We also make homemade Hot Cross Buns to have with our coloured hard-boiled eggs in the morning. A little indulgence is ok as long as we are sure to count the carbs for Alex and dose his insulin accordingly.

Ensuring we all have a healthy breakfast helps us to not indulge in too much chocolate or other sweets.

Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients:

1 cup raisins                                                     1/2 tsp nutmeg

2 eggs, large                                                     3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp baking soda                                              5 Tbsp unsalted butter

Easter and Diabetes - Hot Cross Buns

1/2 tsp cinnamon                                               2 oz cream cheese

4 1/4 cups flour                                                  1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp Instant yeast

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 3/4 cup water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place your measured milk into a pot on the stove.
  3. Turn the heat on medium-low.
  4. Stir frequently until you start to see steam coming off the milk and little bubbles forming around the sides of the milk along the pan.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Let the milk cool to about 105°F (41°C). I like to stick it in the fridge for a few minutes to get the cooling started, but don’t forget about it! We don’t want cold milk!
  7. Meanwhile, boil the raisins with a little baking soda to plump them up. Then, lightly rinse the raisins.
  8. Combine the warm milk, sugar, and yeast. Let the mixture rest on your counter until it looks foamy.
  9. Once the yeast mixture is foamy, make the dough. (You can knead it by hand or use the dough hook on a mixer).
  10. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and set it aside to rise for roughly 2 hours.
  11. Once the dough has risen, gently punch it down and shape it into 12 balls.
  12. Place the dough balls into a greased 9×13-inch pan and set aside to rise once more.
  13. Bake the hot cross buns until golden, then brush with sugar syrup and pipe crosses on top once cooled.

NOTE: I have included the nutrition information for diabetics to easily count their carbs. This is a regular recipe and not low carb. Alex typically eats 1/2 a bun with a hard-boiled egg, now that he is a little older he may eat a whole one.

Nutrition Information:

1 bun – 324 calories, total fat 8.4 g, sodium 181 mg, total carbohydrate 55 g, dietary fibre 2 g, sugar 16.1 g, Protein 7.9 g

Easter dinner

I usually make a traditional Newfoundland Jiggs dinner for Easter. You can check out how to make this feast in one of my previous articles.

While we do have turkey, dressing and potatoes, there are also a LOT of vegetables.

For Easter dinner, I do make a different dessert than I did at Thanksgiving and I will share that recipe with you today.

Lemon Pudding CakeEaster and Diabetes - Lemon Pudding Cake

Ingredients:

3 eggs, separated                                         1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp grated lemon peel                                1/3 cup flour

1/2 cup milk                                                   1/8 tsp salt

1/4 cup lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 325 F, grease (not oil)8 x 8 baking dish.
  2. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks (reserve whites in a small bowl).
  3. Blend in lemon peel, milk and lemon juice. Add sugar, flour and salt; beat until smooth.
  4. Beat egg whites until stiff.
  5. Fold in yolk mixture gently but thoroughly.
  6. Pour into a prepared baking pan. Set in another pan with 1/2 inch hot water.
  7. Bake at 325 F for 30 – 35 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Serve warm or cool. I like to top ours with a spoonful of cool whip.

Note: I have included the nutritional information for the original recipe. I usually make this recipe as is.
Nutrition Information:

88 calories, 1.8 g fat, 59 mg sodium, total carbohydrates 15.6 g, dietary fibre 0.2 g, sugars 12 g, Protein 2.8 g

Managing diabetes is a priority.

Frequent monitoring of blood sugar levels is  an important part of avoiding diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) from prolonged high blood sugars

Naturally, we weigh and measure Alex’s carbs so we can adequately dose his insulin.

Typically we calculate what we serve him then wait to see how much he actually ate before giving the injection. If he doesn’t eat all his carbs we have to weigh his leftovers to determine how much he actually ate before giving that injection we may need to reduce the dose if he only ate half his carbs for instance.

In the beginning, mealtimes were rather tricky but now everyone is quite comfortable with it. Even Alex’s 16 and 13-year-old sisters are comfortable doing his finger pokes, carb counts and injections.

Light supper

A light supper is usually a little later than we usually have supper because we are usually not that hungry.

We usually just grab a turkey sandwich or a plate of leftovers heated up.

Everyone just fends for themselves with the exception of Alex who needs a grownup to count his carbs and deliver his insulin.

While he has given himself his injection at times he does not calculate the dose or dial the dose on the pen needle, that is always done by a caregiver.

Treats

By ensuring we have healthy meals we know Alex is not overloading on high carbs and sugar, but of course we do allow him treats. After he is a kid and it is fine to indulge in some sugary treats. The trick is to not over-indulge and that is our main goal.

Egg Hunt

We have developed our own take on the traditional Easter egg hunt.

I buy little plastic-coloured eggs at the local dollar store and fill each egg with a little surprise. Alex loves these because he gets to keep the toys a lot longer than a piece of chocolate would last.

Easter and Diabetes - plastic eggs for egg hunt

I can usually find small little toys at the dollar store and put them in the eggs. I may put grapes in some or mini BabyBel cheeses that he eats occasionally.

Since Alex is in grade one and has learned to read I also print little jokes and riddles on paper and put those in some of the eggs. Alex really enjoys reading those jokes and riddles to the family.

I hide all the little plastic eggs Saturday evening after the kids have gone home. Then when they come over in the morning they have their egg hunt. The girls are older and typically help Alex find eggs rather than hunting themselves now.

Dealing with the chocolate.

Diabetes Canada recommends choosing dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate whenever possible. There’s less sugar and a stronger chocolate flavour which will satisfy that chocolate craving with a much smaller piece.

It may be difficult to find an Easter bunny made with dark chocolate. I get him a small bunny and do a healthier egg hunt.

Alex still gets a bit of chocolate from the Easter bunny. He understands why he can’t just eat any amount of chocolate and he doesn’t really like it much. His parents decide when and how much chocolate he can have.

In fact, even his sisters don’t go nuts over the chocolate, they would both rather have an Itunes card or makeup.Easter and Diabetes - bunny veggie tray

When he is here I put out a veggie tray with hummus or sour cream and he loves that.

One of my blogging friends makes a veggie tray with the veggies arranged in a bunny shape that I may try this year to make it a little more fun.

There are always creative ways to celebrate holidays like everyone else and with a few tweaks, you can make it relatively lower in sugar without feeling deprived.

Final thoughts

This article has explained how diabetes and Easter don’t have to clash.

With a little imagination, you can have a fun and safe Easter.

You can still have an egg hunt and even a few treats.

Be selective about the treats you have and be sure to test your blood sugars frequently.

Be sure to treat any highs or lows before they get serious.

What family traditions do you have for celebrating Easter?

How you manage all the sugar that is so typically a big part of this holiday?

What tips have you discovered that help you manage your blood sugars?

Share your answers in the comment section below and have a happy and safe Easter.


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6 thoughts on “Easter and Diabetes”

  1. This is a very useful post for parents and grandparents who are looking after children with diabetes.

    I love that you just haven’t said that you stopped chocolate, but that you have put lots of other things in their place.  These are all great ideas that anyone can easily use in their family too.

    I love both of the recipes that you have shared.  I will certainly try both of them.

    Please don’t forget to explain the real meaning of Easter as well.  Have a great time.

    Reply
    • Thanks for dropping by Geoff and taking the time to leave a comment.

      The real meaning of Easter is a big part of our celebration. We always read the Bible stories and attend church services when we are able. 

      I have found that with children and adults it is very difficult to just eliminate certain foods, you need a fun healthy alternative so you don’t feel deprived.

      To my knowledge, Alex has never felt left out of celebrations because of his diabetes in fact he feels like he gets the better deal because his family puts so much more effort into making it special for him.

      I hope you enjoy the recipes, they are family favourites and have been passed down for several generations. Let me know how they turn out for you.

      Happy Easter to you and your family, God bless.

      Reply
  2. Hi Deborah. Thank you for another great post. I think everyone with diabetes know how difficult Easter is and how many temptation are waiting for all of us (especially for kids). We are trying to align our meals at that time to diet but at the same time not too loose holiday spirit. Your Cross Buns looks very tasty and definitely I will try them this year to serve something new. And I absolutely love idea of egg hunt with replacing chocolate with toys. Brilliant!

    Reply
    • Thank you for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it so much.

      Whether we deal with diabetes or not, minimizing the sweets at any holiday without feeling like you are depriving yourself or your family of the joyous celebration is always a challenge.

      I have found that today most parents would prefer a less sugar-focused Easter. Hopefully, this article gives some suggestions that work for you.

      Use your imagination to come up with your own new traditions that help keep you and your family healthy and happy.

      I hope you enjoy that recipe as much as we do.

      Happy Easter.

      Reply
  3. Hi Deb, I really enjoyed your recipes and read about the dinner.
    Of course, we don’t have them here in the Netherlands, and in Germany, people eat differently on easter, but that makes it so interesting, and I will try them. They sound so yummy!:)
    I think you are a great family; you care about Alex and have learned what he is allowed to eat.
    I know you can replace sugar with something that wouldn’t hurt all of you and still taste great, like stevia or coconut blossom sugar. I have no diabetics, but I live very healthy and try not to consume any sugar. It is not good for anyone.
    There is flour from almond, or coconut, or chestnut, which tastes really good. In Europe are many people baking their bread using alternative flours. I haven’t tried it, because I don’t eat any bread anymore. I have several autoimmune disorders, but there are under control.
    A colleague of mine also has diabetes type 1. Still, she got it when she was 27 years old, which is most likely a result of a wrong food pattern that started an autoimmune response, triggering the body to attack the pancreas, destroying the Langerhansche Islands, where insulin is produced.
    I think you are a beautiful family, supporting and caring so much. It is not easy, but you have been open to learning everything to make Alex feel supported and loved, which is the most important fact! I love your blog!
    Have a beautiful easter!
    Sylvia

    Reply
    • Hi Sylvia, thanks for commenting.
      I find it fascinating to learn about what other people eat for various holidays. Perhaps that is partly what attracts me to travel so much, but not to the touristy places. I like getting off the beaten path and really learn about a new and different culture in the places I visit. Looking forward to when travel can safely resume. I do hope you enjoy those recipes.
      I have an adult son with celiac disease (another auto-immune disorder) and have baked with almond flour, coconut flour and brown rice flour with great success and I do use sugar substitute frequently when baking for Alex.
      I don’t bake as often as I used to but when I do I usually keep it sugar-free and gluten-free.
      Adult diagnosed type 1 diabetes is becoming more common, unfortunately. By following the advice of their doctors, type 1 diabetics can live relatively normal lives and avoid many of the complications of diabetes. I wish you and your family a beautiful Easter as well. Take care.

      Reply

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