Make Your Holidays Diabetes Friendly
To most people, November means one thing: Thanksgiving! But November is also American Diabetes Month. While the holiday season may bring plenty of carb-heavy and sugary food to the table (perhaps with a side of alcohol), there are simple ways to take to make the meals diabetic-friendly.
Potatoes, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, and dinner rolls take up a big part of the festive table. These dishes make eating tricky for diabetics. Consider adding or substituting healthier options. For example, include sides that are rich in fiber, like brussels sprouts or green beans. Serve parmesan mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes or add cauliflower and white beans to the potatoes to increase protein and fiber. For recipes with sugar, cut the sweet stuff in half and work in “warm” spices like nutmeg or cinnamon; you may even consider cutting the sugar out entirely if it’s going to be topped with something sweet, like marshmallows.
Before filling up the plate, everyone should take a moment to look at what’s being served. Knowing what looks scrumptious and what doesn’t helps plan your plate. For people with diabetes, it’s important to think about where the carbs will be coming from to better balance your plate. Amy Kimberlain, RDN, CDCES, a Miami-based registered dietitian who specializes in diabetes care, explains, “Ideally, we’re doing half of a plate from non-starchy vegetables, a quarter of a plate from the protein, and a quarter of the plate from carbohydrates.” That’s a good plan for those with or without diabetes.
Hosts should be prepared to talk about ingredients so diabetics can adjust any insulin or glucose tablets they may need to take. Variety, too, is key; an assortment of desserts (including fruit with chocolate drizzle) and drinks (festive mocktail, anyone?) allows those with diabetes to select better options to maintain their health.
In addition to dietary changes and awareness, there are other things diabetics can do for a successful celebration. These include:
- Trying to eat meals around normal times, so hunger doesn’t get the best of your planning.
- Staying hydrated throughout the day, especially if alcohol is on the menu; this also can help prevent overeating.
- Bring your own to-go dish and save a treat for another time when it’s easier to balance an indulgence.
- Check your insulin numbers to ensure your insulin range is where it needs to be.
Thanksgivings and other holidays are for everyone and, with some planning, it’s easy for those with diabetes to fully participate and enjoy the feasts. After all, the most important sweetness of the season is being with family, friends, and loved ones – and that impacts your endorphins, not your blood sugar.