Six Tips for Managing Diabetes at Thanksgiving

The holiday season seems to be filled with pie, candy and sweet treats. For people with diabetes, daily challenges of managing blood sugar may be even tougher in a season that’s focused on food. With a solid resolution to health and a few helpful tips, you’ll be ready to enjoy food and the festivities without letting diabetes make you feel deprived.

  1. Plan your day in advance. Depending on what time the Thanksgiving meal will be served, plan to keep your blood sugar level by eating at normal times. Start the day with a good breakfast, and if lunch will be delayed, have a healthy snack to prevent a blood glucose reaction.
  2. Adjust recipes for healthier versions of favorite foods. Many websites have recipes to lighten traditional foods without sacrificing flavor. Or, consider alternatives like riced/mashed cauliflower as an alternative to the extra butter, cream, salt and fat found in traditional mashed potatoes. Details such as skimming the fat off the top of the gravy can also make a difference. And fruit pies often don’t need as much sugar as the recipe dictates.
  3. Skip the high-calorie dips. Go for raw vegetables with hummus, protein-packed cheese, roasted nuts or shrimp cocktail. These delicious high-protein options won’t leave you feeling left out and can tide you over until it’s time for the main event.
  4. Choose wisely. Consider all the food that’s available, and don’t feel like you have to sample everything. For example, sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes, but not both. Portion control can also help when faced with many carbohydrate-heavy side dishes that will quickly turn to sugar in your body. Strive for a normal carb intake. Go for the nonstarch vegetables that can be filling. If you’re the guest, take a healthy recipe that you know you will enjoy and enjoy sharing.
  5. Manage dessert. This may be the toughest category. Make or buy desserts that are for diabetics, or at least plan your meal accordingly so that you don’t overdo it. Let a small portion or just a few bites satisfy your desire.
  6. Get some exercise. Staying active is an important component of managing diabetes every day. Especially on a day like Thanksgiving, plan activity into your day to compensate for foods that may not typically be on your list. Exercise can lower your blood glucose and improve your A1C.

The holidays are meant to be enjoyed. So don’t let your food choices weigh too heavily on you. Do your best and remember: a meal is temporary but healthy habits set you up for long-term good health.


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