Healthy Holiday Eating for People Living with Diabetes


Each holiday throughout the year is normally celebrated with friends and family, and can involve sharing a meal together. For some people, there is no second thought on the food that is prepared during the holidays; but, for people living with diabetes, choosing the right food during the holidays is a very important decision.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 29.1 million people, or 9.3 percent of the population, have diabetes. Of that 29.1 million, nearly 28 percent are undiagnosed. Risk factors for diabetes includes heredity, age, diet, activity level and obesity. Those affected by diabetes can take a proactive approach to the holidays when dealing with food.

Plan Ahead

An important aspect of managing your nutrition and diabetes at the same time is planning ahead. You will have the freedom to enjoy your holiday meal stress free if you already know what you will eat, how much you will eat and what time you will eat. For example, if your family always eats Thanksgiving at a different time than you usually eat, make sure you plan a snack for your normal meal time to prevent low blood sugar reaction.

Prepare Healthy Alternatives

In addition to planning, you should also consider the type of food to prepare when cooking a holiday meal. You can include healthier versions of your favorite dishes by utilizing fat-free or low fat options such as sour cream. The way food is prepared should also be taken into consideration. For example, try baked sweet potatoes with regular margarine instead of sweet potato casserole. You could even go one step further and substitute side dishes high in starch for healthier choices such as salad or steamed vegetables.

Limit Portions

If you don’t want to substitute your family’s favorite holiday dishes, you can decrease the amount you consume. Having healthy snacks, such as raw vegetables, to nibble on while you’re cooking will help you avoid eating fried or high fat appetizers. You can also be selective of which foods you eat at your family’s holiday dinner. For example, if homemade mashed potatoes are something you look forward to every year, maybe you skip eating dinner rolls or stuffing. This compromise allows you to enjoy your favorite dish while avoiding large quantities of unhealthy foods. A third option is to eat smaller portions if you have too many favorite holiday foods. You can enjoy small, sample size portions of a little bit of everything.

Offer Healthy Options

For some people, holidays are all about the treats. If you’re one of these people, you can enjoy holiday desserts while staying healthy and monitoring your blood glucose levels. You can volunteer to bring a healthy, homemade dessert. This will ensure there is a good option for you to choose. You can also share a dessert with someone who may also have diabetes or trying to watch their calorie intake. Finally, avoid social pressure to indulge too much during dessert.
Overall, the holidays should be a fun time for you to enjoy your friends and family. Planning and compromising will help you stay healthy and manage your diabetes. Be sure to always work with your healthcare provider when determining what to eat during the holidays.

For more information, contact the Wound Healing Center at 230 Deronda Street in Amery or 715-268-0175.

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