It’s easy to go a little crazy with the frenetic food fest that starts during Thanksgiving and ends on New Year’s Day. How can people with diabetes get through the holidays without overindulging? Keep a few simple tips in mind to make the most of the holidays without compromising your health.
- Make lighter variations of your favorite holiday recipes. For example, serve sweet potatoes with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg rather than smothering them in marshmallows. You might discover a few new flavor sensations you prefer.
- Do you really need to feast on Aunt Bertha’s famously fatty chocolate cake? Bring a few tasty sugar free desserts to help you avoid temptation. Make substitutes along the way, such as eating a handful of nuts rather than noshing on pecan pie.
- Make a plan before you go out to eat. Most restaurants have online menus so you can decide what to eat before you leave. This makes it easier to count calories, avoid the wrong foods and stick your medication schedules.
- Prepare a tantalizing treat that is also diabetic-friendly. If you are going to a party where sinful foods are served, bring a vegetable platter or other yummy alternative you can nibble on without guilt.
- Know how to work a buffet table without going overboard. Use a small plate and stock up on vegetables, fruits and salads. Leave a tiny spot for small servings of richer foods.
- Eat first and drink alcohol later. Have sparkling water with a wedge of lemon or lime while you eat. Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach as it can cause your blood sugar to drop. Sugary drinks with alcohol such as Margaritas or Rum Runners are off limits. Mix alcohol with sugar free soda, diet juice or anything else you like that is calorie free. Try to have only one drink at a party or gathering to avoid extra empty calories. Alcohol is fattening. Make sure to test your blood sugar before it becomes a potential crisis.
- Food and fun is not the same thing. Sometimes food is associated with good times during the holiday season. Focus on socializing, dancing or listening to music rather than eating. You’ll be amazed at how much you will enjoy yourself.
- Have a snack before you go to holiday soirées. Enjoy a serving of protein, such as low fat cheese or skinless chicken. Add a serving of whole grain and you will have a great snack which will temper your appetite. Drink plenty of water to ward off cravings for salty snacks such as potato chips and dip. Crunch on vegetables with a diabetic-friendly dip instead.
- Choose a seat far away from the banquet table. When you sit near the food, it becomes more tempting. Out of sight can often mean out of mind.
- Slip some sugar-free candy in your pocket or handbag to avoid temptations in the break room at work. Often well-meaning co-workers bring in candy and cookies that lure you away from healthy habits. Satisfy yourself with a sugar-free treat or just have a taste.
- Consider the rule of one. Have one bite of your favorite foods or a single cookie rather than a plate full of desserts. This is a way to avoid feeling deprived so you don’t wind up binge eating during the holidays. Learn how to decline second helpings.
- Make sure to watch carbohydrates since they all turn to sugar. A single serving of mashed potatoes can make your blood sugar soar as much as a decadent dessert. Choose your carbohydrates carefully and watch portion sizes.
- If you wind up overindulging, get back to your normal routine the next morning. Exercise, monitor your blood sugar levels and eat healthy foods. One slip-up is not a license to engage in unhealthy habits for the rest of the holiday season. Do remember you are human.
Depending on your approach to food, the holiday season can be a time to look forward to or dread. With a bit of planning and knowledge, you can enjoy the holidays without losing your sanity. Focus on having fun and maintaining healthy habits from November to January so you don’t have regrets in the New Year.