For many people, Thanksgiving means one thing: food, and lots of it. Thanksgiving brings to mind images of roasted turkeys, mashed potatoes, and sweet potato pies. For some, however, Thanksgiving meals bring stress. People with diabetes can have a hard time maneuvering around the large portions of fatty and starchy foods that are customary for the holiday, so we’ve compiled a list of tips to help people with diabetes have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.
A lot of classic Thanksgiving dishes contain lots of sugar, fat, and calories. Skip the old family recipe that requires multiple sticks of butter or lots of heavy cream and make a healthier version. There is a wealth of healthy Thanksgiving recipes online, and it can be interesting to mix up the typical feast with a new favorite dish!
Load up on Vegetables
When you first get that empty plate, it can be tempting to cover it in gravy-soaked carbs. Resist the urge and reach for the veggies first. Large servings of non-starchy vegetables can make a plate look full and will leave only a little room for the less healthy dishes. Opt for roasted veggies, not fried, and avoid anything covered in sauce, such as a green bean casserole. If you’re unsure of whether there will be many veggies on the table at your celebration, volunteer ahead of time to bring a healthy vegetable dish that you know you enjoy.
Pick One, Leave One
Everyone splurges on Thanksgiving, and you can, too. “You don’t have to say no; you just have to know your limits. Grab small portions of your favorite foods, but leave behind others you don’t care much about,” advises Joel Cook, DO, physician at St. Joseph Health Primary Care College Station. If you’ve been dreaming about those mashed potatoes for months, give yourself a small scoop, but resist the urge to add other starchy foods, such as bread or stuffing, to your plate.
Find a Pal
Before the meal begins, find someone who is also watching what they eat and agree to become accountability buddies. Create a set of guidelines you’ll both agree to stick to, and politely remind them if they’re straying from your agreement. They can also help keep you from reaching for that second serving of stuffing.
Your support of each other doesn’t have to stop at dinner! Split a dessert with your pal to reduce your sugar intake, or go into a separate room with them to chat when the dessert comes out if you want to avoid temptation. Having someone to keep you company can also make for a happier holiday, so it’s a win-win.
You don’t have to let your diabetes control your life. There are plenty of healthy decisions you can make that won’t make you feel like you’re missing out. The experienced staff at our Diabetes Self-Management Program at St. Joseph Health’s MatureWell Lifestyle Center can give you the resources and knowledge you need to live a healthy and fulfilling life with diabetes. Register today to reduce the stress of the holiday season!
American Diabetes Association | Planning Ahead
American Diabetes Association | Fitting in Sweets
Diabetes Forecast | Remaking Thanksgiving Menus