The holiday season is upon us and we’ll be celebrating straight into the New Year. All of the fun and festivities are great, but if you’re not careful the joy and merriment can turn into a diabetes disaster.
Here’s the plan: enjoy yourself. Connect with friends and family and revel in the spirit of the season. With a little bit of planning you can keep diabetes from dampening your celebration. The American Diabetes Association offers the following tips specifically for Thanksgiving:
- Consider Your Timing
Most of us eat one large meal on Thanksgiving, and it’s often not at a normal mealtime. If you have diabetes, you may want to go ahead and eat something small at your normal mealtime to keep your blood sugar under control.
- Be Physically Active!
If you’re doing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner you’re probably going to eat more than you normally would in a single meal. Find some balance by taking a walk as a family or playing a friendly backyard game of soccer or touch football.
Conventional wisdom may suggest you should skip meals leading up to your Thanksgiving feast, but that’s not a good strategy whether you have diabetes or not. Go ahead and nibble while you’re cooking or waiting to eat, but make smart choices that won’t lead to a spike in your blood sugar. Raw veggies with low-calorie dip or a few bites of low-fat cheese are good, easy options.
- Be Selective
When the big meal is finally served, remember you don’t have to eat everything on the table. A lot of traditional Thanksgiving foods are high in carbohydrates (see: mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls, pumpkin pie, and even cranberry sauce. Are you drooling? I’m drooling.). Going too heavy on the carbohydrates can lead to high blood sugar levels. Pick your favorites and enjoy a reasonable portion of each, skip the rest.
- Eat Smaller Portions
If you really must have some of everything, make sure your portions are more like tastes. You can have a bite of everything, but try to keep your overall carbohydrate intake limited to the amount you’d have on a normal day.
- Eat Your Vegetables
Mom was right (are you surprised?), vegetables are an important part of any diet. Add some color to your Thanksgiving feast with a green salad or steamed, seasoned, non-starchy veggies. They’ll help you feel full and may help you skip other high-calorie or high-fat dishes.
If you’re traveling for Turkey Day, consider these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for safe travel with diabetes. Key points include keeping your medication close at hand, taking time zone changes into consideration, and packing healthy snacks in case of delays.