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Diabetes: Don't Give Up Your Favorites on Thanksgiving

November 05, 2019

Diabetes: Don't Give Up Your Favorites on Thanksgiving

When you have diabetes, the holidays can be an especially tough time to stick to your meal plan—but it’s not impossible.

Try these tips to keep your blood sugar in a healthy range during this food-centered season.

Use a little discretion. You don’t have to give up your favorite holiday foods—or feel guilty if you do indulge in them—as long as you plan. If you want a slice of high-carb pecan pie for dessert, skip the rolls during the main meal. Also, ask for a modest slice and savor it. Save your dessert for two to three hours after your meal to give your body time to digest.

“Have what you want on Thanksgiving—it’s one day—but make sure it doesn’t turn into many days by indulging all week,” says Michele Geiger, registered dietitian and certified nurse educator at Kettering Health Network. “Package leftovers and send them with family and friends, so you’re not tempted.”

Looking through all your food options before putting anything on your plate can help you prioritize your favorites while building a healthy plate.

“Go for the veggies first and fill half of your plate, then add meat to a quarter of your plate, leaving the last quarter for starches,” Geiger says. “Eat your vegetables first, letting them fill you up before going for the other foods.”

Spoil your appetite. Before holiday parties, eat a healthy snack, such as a few pieces of low-fat cheese. You’ll be less likely to overeat.

“One of the biggest mistakes people make on Thanksgiving is not eating all day, and then overeating at dinner, which throws their blood sugar out of whack,” Geiger says. “It’s always better to have three meals four to five hours apart. It’s OK to make breakfast and lunch smaller meals, but don’t skip them altogether.”

Come prepared. Arrive with a dish to pass at Thanksgiving dinner. Try making it a diabetes-friendly one, like a lower-sugar or lower-fat version of a standard recipe.

“Eating healthy during Thanksgiving is really all about portion control, but if you want to make some healthier substitutions, look for low-sugar recipes online.”

Avoid drinking your calories. With so much food on the table, try to avoid excess calories and sugar from your beverages.

“Diffuse lemons, oranges, and cranberries in a pitcher of water for a festive, low-calorie drink,” Geiger says.

Get moving. “Try to go for a 10-15-minute walk an hour or two after supper to help with blood sugar control,” Geiger says. “Moving a little bit will help your body absorb some glucose from the meal.”

Getting outside will also give you a break from being surrounded by food so you can regain focus on your nutrition goals.

Get additional help. 

For more help with managing diabetes and your diet, talk to your doctor about our nutritional counseling services.