Welcome back to our weekly diabetes advice column, Ask D'Mine, hosted by veteran type 1, diabetes author and community educator Wil Dubois.

The holidays are here! And we can't believe who's writing in for advice...


{Got your own questions? Email us at AskDMine@diabetesmine.com}


Santa, type 2 from the North Pole, writes: Mrs. C and I are huge fans of DiabetesMine, and I often read the articles penned by you, Amy, Mike, and all the rest, to the Elves on cold winter nights. Well, actually all nights are pretty cold up here. You guys know that many of the Elves have type 1, right? Anyway, as you might have guessed, I have a high-stress job with crazy irregular work hours. Most people probably think I only work one day a year (yeah, right) but managing the factory is a year-round job and the mailroom is absolutely crazy in the winter. So eating healthy is a real challenge for me. Most of the time, I'm able to keep to my diet pretty well, but this time of year I have to make a lot of public appearances and it seems everywhere I go people offer me food that's really not a good choice for my diabetes. I don't want to be rude, and being a celebrity, I need to be careful not to insult any of my fans. Have you got any tips to keep ol' Saint Nick jolly? I'm told I get grumpy when my blood sugar is north of 250. Uh... pardon the pun.

PS: Oh, and I just wanted to clear the air around something that happened a long time ago that I've been feeling a little guilty about. I did get your request back in 1977, but I'm sure that now that you are older you can understand that bringing you Miss December simply wasn't an option. It didn't occur to me until years later that I could have hooked you up with an autographed picture instead. Sorry about that. Anyway, thanks in advance for your help, Wil, and I'll see what I can do about getting you off the naughty list. Have a very merry Christmas.


Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: Wow! A letter from Santa! What a twist! I'm honored, and I thank you for your kind words about our site. Actually, I did know about the Elves and type 1, I think I read about it in the New England Journal of Medicine. As type 1 is more common among northern populations, I guess it only makes sense that the Elves would have some of the highest type 1 prevalence rates in the world, being as they are the most northern population of all.Dear Santa DiabetesMine

Sorry, my mind wanders... On to your question. You know, this is a tough time of the year for lots of folks. Not just celebs and people (and Elves) with diabetes, and I think the root cause has to do with the role food plays in American society.

Food isn't just about nutrition. The Natives on this continent may have used peace pipes back in the day, but somewhere along the road that got replaced by the peace poundcake. We've become a food culture. In businesses we use food to pitch deals, make deals, and seal deals. In politics we use food to impress, intimidate, or integrate. In society we use food to make friends and to show friendship. Food is used to bond with loved ones and to repair damaged bonds: The box of chocolates to say your sorry to your mate for what ever it was you did this time to piss her off.

Food is how we date, marry, and die. Hell, even many religious rituals have a serious food component. We don't quite worship food, but it's close.

At the holidays, it seems that our society's culture of food reaches a fever pitch. Food is offered to visitors at homes, brought to work, shipped from business associates, and even offered to strangers in stores. And food isn't only offered in person: Enough fruitcakes to rebuild the great pyramid at Giza are shipped to distant loved ones every year.

What's up with that?

Well, food, especially at the holidays, is loaded with more than calories, carbs, and cholesterol. Food is also loaded with meaning, symbolism, and ritual. That's what makes it so hard to deal with. It's not just food. It has evolved to become a critical form of interpersonal communication. In turn, that means turning down food can be seen as an act of rudeness akin to ignoring someone who is talking to you—at best it's callus, and at worst it's an insult.

What to do? Given all the baggage food carries with it, just saying "no" isn't a realistic option. But the fact that food has evolved into a form of communication, Dear Santa, is the key to your salvation. Because there's more than one way to communicate.

My holiday survival advice is to accept the fact the food is a way that people use to try to bond, show affection, appreciation, or share a sense of community. It's a fundamental of hospitality that harkens back to offering water to a stranger who wanders in out of the desert. But we need to survive a different kind of desert, one of excess, and I think the key to surviving the holidays is to find a way to accept the messenger while rejecting the message.

So what can you say to reject someone's offer of love, peace, and friendship while making them feel good about it? You'll have to modify this to fit your style, but to balance peace in your body with peace with the rest of world, may I suggest a White Lie?

(This might be how I got on the naughty list in the first place)

Now lies come in all flavors. I'm not sure what I've taught my son about lying, but the fact is that a lie and a sin are not the same. I don't think that being 100% honest all the time is necessary, or even desirable, when living in a civil society. Anyone who's ever been asked the infamous "does this make my butt look big" wardrobe question knows that sometimes truth is not the best option. If the truth will hurt someone else, and offers no benefit to anyone, then I submit that it is cruel; while being less than truthful can be an act of kindness.food is love

So I think you should lie your way out of food you know you don't really want. To do this, you'll need two things: Iron willpower and a script. You know, like call centers use. Your script will be your carefully pre-crafted refusal to accept what is being offered while, hopefully, not insulting the offeree.

The willpower I can't help you with. Willpower—ironically given my name—is not my strong point. But as to the script, as a writer, that I can help you with.

Now, before I offer up the script, remember that you are only one partner in this social dance. You need a bulletproof script because you are swimming upstream and can expect some resistance from the people whom you yourself are resisting. This is why the "just say no" script always fails. The other party will reject it. If you say, "Oh, no thank you, I'm on a diet," you will not succeed because your dance partner in this social play will respond with, "Oh, don't be silly, one cookie won't hurt you." Likewise, saying, "Sorry I have diabetes" won't work because no one who doesn't have diabetes knows a damn thing about it.

So my suggestion is: "Oh, gosh, I've been eating like a pig all day and if I eat one more bite I'll explode! (Be sure to pat your belly at this point.) But it looks wonderful. (Socially acceptable to lick lips, but avoid drooling.) Would you consider wrapping me up a small piece that I could take with me for later?"

Then donate the offering to the homeless shelter on your way home.

So that's my advice. Lie. Lie nicely. Lie sweetly, and keep your blood sugar down. Don't fight our society; just duck the bullet it fires. You'll keep the control you want, keep the peace with the world, and you won't risk hurting anyone's feelings.

Oh, right. Speaking of people's feelings, don't play the allergy card. Avoid saying (even if it's true), "I can't eat that because I'm celiac/lactose-intolerant/allergic," because now you've made your dance partner feel terrible that they know you so poorly that instead of a peace pipe they've just offered you a cup full of poison.

Make it a White Lie Christmas for peace on earth and good will to men—and women and Elves, of course.

Oh, and Santa? Don't worry about that whole naughty list thing, I'm used to that by now. But that autographed pic of Miss December in my stocking would sure be welcome.



This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.


Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.