Managing Thanksgiving Dinner with Diabetes: Tips for a Healthy Holiday

It’s almost Thanksgiving! Whether you are hosting the dinner or attending, this holiday is a perfect opportunity to celebrate with loved ones and enjoy delicious food. However, for those living with diabetes, these celebrations can be stressful and challenging. In this blog post, we will share tips on how to manage your diet during Thanksgiving so that you can still enjoy all of the amazing flavors and dishes without putting yourself at risk.

Portion Control

Portion control is one of the most important parts of managing diabetes. Before you even begin to prepare your Thanksgiving meal, it’s helpful to know how much food you should be eating and what a serving size actually looks like. Remember that Thanksgiving is all about choices. Think about which dishes you absolutely can’t live without and which ones you don’t mind skipping. To maintain your carb and calorie count similar to your evening meal, adjust quantities accordingly. Try to follow the method according to the American Diabetes Association called Create Your Plate which details a simple and effective way to manage blood glucose levels by filling your plate with specific amounts of food portions.

Tips for Specific Foods

Here are some specific tips to keep in mind when planning your meal:

Turkey

Turkey is high in protein and doesn’t have any carbohydrates. A good portion size is approximately 3-4 ounces, or about the size of your palm. Be sure to remove the skin on your turkey before eating it and opt for the white breast meat cuts, which is the leanest part.

If you are the one preparing the turkey this year, consider roasting it instead of deep-frying it. This will require little to no added fat. For flavor, add plenty of seasoning.

Stuffing

Stuffing is typically bread-based so it is high in carbohydrates and needs to be carefully considered in your meal plan. 1/2 cup of stuffing usually has about 15-30 grams of carbohydrates, but does vary depending on the recipe.

If you’re hosting or bringing the stuffing this year, consider adding extra non-starchy vegetables to the stuffing such as celery, onions, and carrots. You can also use whole grain or 100% whole wheat bread for a healthier option for all.

Potatoes

From mashed potatoes with gravy to sweet potato casserole, potatoes can really pack in the carbs, saturated fats, and calories. If potatoes are one item you don’t want to pass up, just be sure to keep your portions small, especially if there is a lot of cheese, butter, or cream. A half-cup of mashed potatoes usually has about 15 grams of carbs. Rather than add extra butter or sour cream to your potatoes, season them with freshly ground pepper. Instead of sour cream, you can also use non-fat Greek yogurt as a much healthier alternative.

When preparing potatoes for your Thanksgiving feast, consider finding a healthier potato recipe than you’ve used in years past. You can use healthier ingredients, such as sweet potato fries, potato casserole, or roasted potatoes. Healthy does not have to mean flavorless!

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is dense in carbohydrates and also added sugar. Did you know just two tablespoons have about 15 grams of carbohydrates? If cranberry sauce is one of your favorites, make sure to use only one tablespoon or two on top of your turkey. A little can go a long way!

Dessert

Dessert can be one of the most tempting parts of Thanksgiving. There are so many delicious options that it’s hard to know where to start! A great tip for managing dessert is to try and pick only one. When choosing the pie, opt for freshly made over store-bought if possible in order to control ingredients used.

Enjoy Your Thanksgiving Meal

Overall, remember to stay active and engage in conversation with your family during the meal. This will help you slow down while eating, which can prevent overeating or mindless munching throughout the day. Be sure to focus on enjoying every part of Thanksgiving rather than stressing over what you should be doing or how much more there is left to eat! With some smart thinking and careful planning, you can enjoy Thanksgiving just as much as everyone else.

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