What does Easter mean to you? For me, this time of year is full of my memories of many years, stretching way back to before I had type 1 diabetes, down along the pathways of my life and out again, snaking over hills filled with images of family, seaweed fights at our beach shack, hunting for eggs in the dawn, happiness and magic. There are also those dark moments after diabetes crept quietly into my life, sneaking up on me with its hands around my neck, scaring the daylights out of me. Easter was a time where it had a particularly strong stranglehold on me in those early days. My mum, full of her own anxieties and fears, followed all of the recommendations, as any mum would do. Easter eggs were off the menu for me, but she made our own versions with slabs of copha, sultanas, cocoa and artificial sweetener. In some ways, it was a bit like eating white christmas slices. In others it was like eating a whole vat full of fat and chemicals and inevitably I remember feeling (and possibly being) quite sick.
Eventually the world changed and with it, those copha eggs became replaced by real chocolate. In my early 20’s I would go over the top – buying a shop full of chocolate for everyone in the family, and later, when my children were born, the Easter Bunny would give far too much chocolate to them. It was as if I was unconsciously trying to make up for all that lost time, where we were mistakenly told that chocolate was one of the “forbidden foods”, and the bunny was on my side.
In fact, chocolate has quite a slow impact on the blood glucose levels, and in moderation, can be quite a reasonable addition to a healthy diet. Dark chocolate in particular, is one of my regular daily treats, with the savouring of a couple of squares of quality dark chocolate being a lovely point of my day, with a hot cup of tea.
The days of over indulging my children at Easter have also changed, for many reasons, and were replaced with a still very generous dose of chocolate from the bunny, plus some non chocolate related gifts, such as books and balls, and plenty of memories – Monopoly and Uno played for hours by the sea. Sandcastle cities and pelicans landing almost in our laps. Laughing until we cry at silly television shows into the late of night. Talking to the local magpies, walking for hours along the sand, and eating together. Those beautiful crisp South Australian autumn days, spent beachside, still remain part of many of our Easters. And the family always enjoy some hot cross buns. Until recently, I would also enjoy a hot cross bun or too. But since going low carb, will be experimenting with an almond meal version for myself. Not because everyone with diabetes “should” do this, but because for me, this has made a massive positive change in my life, and I am holding onto that. If you want to have a hot cross bun, you go for it!
Handling Easter or any special occasion when you live with diabetes can not be turned into any kind of “tips” or “rules” blog post. Because you can not manage your diabetes or your life in the same way as someone else might do. It is a very personal choice I think, to celebrate something in the way that suits you and your life. If you are someone who enjoys a bit of chocolate at Easter time, then go for it. And the recommendation to not overindulge in chocolate or hot cross buns is really nothing to do with diabetes, and everything to do with being sensible and living life in balance. It is times like this that in fact remind us that we are human beings first and people with diabetes second.
Whatever you are doing this Easter, may you be happy and relaxed, and may someone you love be near. And if you get the chance to sit, stand, walk or be in nature, then do so, because wherever you are in the world, April is a time full of possibility and change, as we head into the middle part of the year. Take time to reflect on your life and what is to come.