For many of us, Thanksgiving means full plates and fuller bellies. For people with diabetes, the holiday can make them full of anxiety. It can be difficult for diabetics to give thanks with everyone else around the table, while battling their blood sugar levels.
Traditional Thanksgiving dishes: like creamy green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole, and stuffing, are not typically diabetes friendly. However, modifying a few traditional recipes with less added fat and added sugar can make the holidays healthy for everyone!” said Effie Akerlund, Clinical Dietician Specialist with CMC Weight Loss.
How to Still Enjoy the Holiday
Even though Thanksgiving might be more challenging for people with diabetes, it can still be enjoyable with proper planning and monitoring. Effie offers the following tips for people with diabetes during the holidays.
BEFORE THE MEAL:
Don’t skip breakfast! Skipping meals in preparation for the feast will only be detrimental for your blood sugar levels. It will also make it more difficult to control portion sizes. Shoot for meals high in protein, fruits and vegetables.
Trot it out! If your area offers a Turkey trot, grab a family member and give it a try! Walk, run, skip or bike…any movement you can get in during the day will help regulate your blood sugars.
Prepare a diabetes-friendly dish. If you’ve noticed a lack of diabetes-friendly options in past years, bring your own! Here are some ideas from Akerlund.
Build a blood-sugar-friendly plate. Monitoring your portions should not leave you feeling hungry! Focus on loading your plate up with the foods that are good for you: Go heavy on the roasted turkey, vegetables, and your diabetes-friendly dish. And go lighter on the high-carb options like stuffing and rolls.
Skip the liquid sugars. Alcohol and soda have a lot of sneaky carbohydrates and sugars. So fill your cup with drinks, like water, seltzer water, unsweetened tea, that will allow you to enjoy more of the food.
Monitor your blood glucose. Keep tabs on your blood-glucose levels just like you would any other meal. Check your levels throughout the day, and especially around the time of the meal. If that means pricking your finger at the dinner table or pulling out your phone to check your insulin levels on an app, do what you have to do!
Move around. Go outside and play football with the kids. Go for a family bike ride around the neighborhood, or a stroll with your partner. Maybe by the end of a day full of family and festivities, the most enticing option is to shut yourself off in a room alone and practice yoga. Any and all options are great ways to regulate your levels. You should also feel good about starting a new healthy tradition for your family!
Drink water. Another way to regulate blood-glucose levels is staying hydrated. Shoot for 40 oz of water between dinner and bedtime and wake up feeling healthy & ready for Black Friday shopping!
How to Start a Conversation with Others at the Table
Sometimes passing on your grandma’s homemade pumpkin pie does not go over well with the chef. However, your loved ones should encourage you to do what is necessary for you to be healthy during the holidays.
Start a conversation! Maybe your friend is hosting Friendsgiving and doesn’t know about your diabetes. Share what you’re comfortable with, but you can absolutely let the host know in a polite way that you’ll be bringing ‘dishes you can eat with your health situation’ or why ‘you’ll have to pass on the sweet potato casserole because the sugar and carbs spike your blood sugar levels which can be very dangerous for someone with diabetes’.
This conversation could also be about the technology you are using to give your body insulin. Some Type 1 diabetics may have to prick their fingers during Thanksgiving dinner, others may use different forms of technology to get their insulin. Your loved one’s care about you and your health and you should feel supported when taking care of yourself!
CMC wants you to know you are not alone in controlling your diabetes. We have many resources for people living with diabetes, including our Diabetes Support Group. These group sessions feature a variety of professionals and cover various topics to help you better understand diabetes, ways to manage it, and how to live a healthier life.