It can be a challenge for people with diabetes to “feel thankful” on Thanksgiving when they are surrounded by foods that they should not eat in large quantities. Luckily, there are a variety of ways to get rid of temptation and still enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving meal. Discover how you can survive another Thanksgiving with diabetes.
- Preparation matters when you get ready for holiday dinners with diabetes. Plan on a good nights sleep so that you are well rested. Often people think they are hungry when they are really tired. Eat a healthy breakfast before Thanksgiving dinner so you can focus and avoid overindulging while cooking or waiting for the Thanksgiving meal to be served. Consider a diabetes-friendly breakfast such as egg whites with red and green peppers and onions, a slice or two of whole grain toast and one piece of Canadian bacon.
- Be ready for two temptations whether you are cooking or attending – appetizers and desserts. Bring or prepare a vegetable platter with steamed carrots, pea pods, grilled red peppers and mixed olives and serve them with a yogurt dip. Make fresh tomato salsa or healthy avocado dip as well. This will help you avoid the full-fat blue cheese, pigs in a blanket and other foods which are high in saturated fat and calories. For dessert, bake pear slices and canned cherries (no syrup) with cinnamon and a brown sugar substitute. Let them cool and then mix into a large bowl of sugar-free vanilla pudding. Put the cherry/pear pudding in a large casserole dish and top it off with a handful of small dark chocolate chips and walnuts. Everyone at the Thanksgiving dinner is sure to want to sample this irresistible dessert while you enjoy a guilt-free serving.
- Once the Thanksgiving meal is served, make a healthy plate. Eat white meat turkey and remove the skin. Season with herbs and spices rather than salt and gravy. Choose sides that aren’t loaded with cheese, creamy sauce and other fattening toppings. Fill half the plate with non–starchy vegetables. If you have a couple of favorites you can’t resist, use the rule of one. Have one tablespoon of these dishes to get the flavor without losing control of your diabetes self-management plan. It is Thanksgiving, so do take a small taste and don’t feel guilty. You will return to your regular style of eating by tomorrow.
- Instead of being food-centric, focus on the reasons for a Thanksgiving gathering. Remember to enjoy the company of the people around you and express gratitude for what you have. This will help you stay focused on what is really important. Rather than grazing or having a second serving, make only one plate.
- Alcohol and sweet alcoholic berry punch may be another temptation at Thanksgiving gatherings. If you decide to have a drink, choose light beer, wine or a wine spritzer rather than sweet mixed drinks. For those who want a mixed drink, use mixers such as diet soda, diet tonic and seltzer. Bring or have available fancy, sugar-free sparkling water so you have something to sip on throughout the meal.
- When Thanksgiving dinner is over, create a tradition by suggesting a walk around the neighborhood instead of watching TV. Take a stroll, share stories and get exercise after your meal to work off any extra calories you may have consumed. An after dinner walk will definitely help lower your blood sugar.
- Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be about over-eating and feeling terrible about it. Take charge by being prepared with other options whether cooking at home or visiting family or friends for the meal.
With a few simple preparations, there is no need to dread Thanksgiving when you have diabetes. Focus on fun rather than food and be ready with healthy options. Establish your own traditions you can look forward to in the years to come.