November 13, 2008

Holiday Gifts for People with Diabetes

It's almost that time again!

People with diabetes are bracing themselves to smile graciously as they unwrap boxes of diarrhea-producing, blood sugar-raising "Sugar Free" cookies and tuck into dinners filled with diet-ruining high carb/low fat items prepared with love by friends and relatives who don't understand diabetes.

There's still time to head off these kinds of disasters. If you are shopping for someone with diabetes, I hope this list of suggestions helps you choose an appropriate gift. If you are a person with diabetes, don't be shy about letting those who love you know what kinds gifts would be most appreciated--and what kinds of foods you can eat.


1. A Pedometer. The "10,000 Steps" program might be a great way to start a gentle but effective exercise program and the pedometer is a fun way to motivate and measure improvement. Count how many steps you take each day, then set goals that gradually raise your daily step count to 10,000. This has been shown to make dramatic impacts on fitness.

2. A Heart Rate Monitor. The heart rate monitor makes it possible to fine-tune an aerobic regimen so that it strengthens the heart. This is only an appropriate gift for someone who already is involved in some form of aerobic exercise. Pair the monitor with a book that explains how to use the monitor to improve cardiac fitness.

3. A gym or pool membership. If you are looking for an expensive gift consider a gym membership, but consult the recipient as to which club they prefer before you buy the membership as it will be nonrefundable.

4. Three Bottles of Vitamin D. If you live in a wintry climate and can't afford to give the gym membership, give the gift of Sunlight. 1,000 IU of vitamin D are safe for any adult and supplementing Vitamin D improves mood and appears to have impressive health benefits. Go for the oil-based Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol).

5. Blood Sugar Test Strips. This can be a wonderful gift for someone who is working on improving their blood sugar control as strips are very expensive and many insurance plans limit the number of strips a person can get each month. Make sure you find out which brand of meter the person uses as strips only work with specific meters. Amazon has some very good deals on strips, but check the comments to make sure that the expiration dates are current.

Do NOT give a meter as a gift! The biggest expense in blood sugar testing is not the meter but the strips. A "nice" meter might require the giftee to spend more on strips than they can afford. Also, many insurance plans limit the brands of strips they will pay for or charge a much higher deductible for strips of certain brands.

Check beforehand to find out what meter your recipient uses and whether they would appreciate more strips. This gift may be especially useful for people on Medicare which limits the number of strips given out severely.

6. Pharmacy Gift Cards. Many insurance plans have very high copays. A pharmacy gift card could be very helpful to a person who needs to fill prescriptions every month.

7. Stick Me Design Meter/supplies fashion bag. These are a delightful treat for women who carry blood sugar testing supplies or injection supplies. I have one myself and love it.

8. Pumpwear. This company makes a range of fashion accessories for people who use insulin pumps including quite a few for children.

9. Low Carb Cookbooks. Lowering carbohydrate intake is the key to improving blood sugars, but it can be tough to know what to eat. Low carb cook books can help people with diabetes learn more about what foods will work best to improve blood sugar control.

10. Low carb cooking ingredients. Many people with diabetes would appreciate a gift of DaVinci Sugar Free Syrups. They are extremely useful for making low carb desserts. They contain Splenda, so don't give them to people who don't use this artificial sweetener.

Other low carb cooking ingredients that might be appreciated are Not Starch which is a extremely low carb thickener that can be used to replace flour in gravy.

Other useful low carb supplies include Almond Flourand Vanilla Whey Protein Powder

I welcome your gift suggestions in our comment section, but will be deleting comments which are obvious spam so please do not put in links to commercial web sites of dubious interest to people with diabetes.

UPDATE Nov 13, 3:14 PM: Be sure to read the comments. Visitors have posted some really great gift ideas!


Anonymous said...

I believe the step program (for the pedometer) is 10,000 steps -- approximately 5 miles.

Regarding the heart-rate monitor: if the recipient belongs to a gym, make sure the transmitter works with the gym equipment as well as with the wristwatch receiver/recorder. Most gym equipment is set up to work with Polar (brand) heart-rate monitors. Also, if the person is specifically into cycling, running, or weight loss (and you have a more generous budget), you might want a specialized training computer, which in addition to heart-rate, records distance, altitude, and/or stroke rate (for cycling), and the ability to upload the results to a computer or a Web site. Some of these also have integrated GPS receivers (Garmin makes a few of these, great for street runners and orienteers).

Anonymous said...

Jenny - another great product is:

Frio Cooling Wallets

For insulin or other temperature-sensitive meds - does not require refrigeration once activated.

Use in hot climates or for summertime or outdoor use.

I can keep my insulin in a hot car in the summer in NJ with no problem.

Only requires a 15 minute soaking in water to activate, and keeps working for days, without refrigeration. You reactivate in water once the crystals in the wallet shrink back to normal size.

Do a Google search on "frio insulin" or such to find vendors.

Jenny said...

10,000 steps! It's fixed. I really did know that. . . .

Great suggestion about the Frio wallet too!

Anonymous said...

Chocoperfection bars? The SA is erythritol, not as bad as maltitol. Unsweetened coconut milk, Gourmet coffee beans, hard cheeses, Lindt 85% chocolate bar, Endangered Species 88% chocolate bar.

Anonymous said...

I know Jenny is too modest, but I'll suggest it: her terrific book, Diabetes 101, is a great gift.

Btw, I think your suggestion for the vit D3 is great. My 73 yo dad's birthday was in September and for his birthday I gave him a winter's supply of D3 (he lives in the grey Northeast), krill oil, and magnesium. By Father's Day, it will be time to replenish his supply.

He doesn't need more ties, slippers, etc. and he's always asking me what vitamins & supplements to take, so these were most welcome.

Jenny said...

Something I just saw which would be a great gift for some people is a special Croc made for people with diabetes that you can buy from the Crocs web site. It comes in several versions, some of which accomodate orthotics.

Kudos to Crocs for honoring International Diabetes Day!

I live in my crocs which are the only shoes my orthopedically challenged feet are comfortable in. These have a protected toe and a higher heel and sound like they may have a special footbed too. The regular model isn't priced much more than regular crocs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the suggestions, we have actually bought several of the diabetes awareness t-shirts from Pump Wear inc. . They have several to choose from, I Pump, I Test, some really clever ones, like the good kind of keytones, my son loves it. they make great gifts . Great gift ideas!

Anonymous said...

Oops, I wrote the wrong title to Jenny's book. Should be Blood Sugar 101: What They Don't Tell You About Diabetes.

I bought two copies as soon as the book came out and have given both away. I just ordered another. It's a great reference and perfect for anyone with diabetes (no one can learn enough in the short appts with doctors, nurse educators, and dieticians), for anyone in a relationship with someone with diabetes, and for anyone with a diabetes family history.

Anonymous said...

I;m buying three copies of Quentin's most excellent book

One for me, one for a relative who needs to know, and one for my GP which hopefully will be read also by her colleagues.

Hmmm, maybe I'll get her a copy of Blood Sugar 101 while I'm at it. That would help a LOT of people.