Please Pass the Potatoes? Thanksgiving Dinner When You Have Diabetes

As we excitedly enter the holiday season, making Thanksgiving dinner plans and menus is at the top of many to-do lists! But when you have diabetes, this meal may bring a bit of anxiety.

Four quick tips to enjoy holiday meals

Here are a few tips to make your holiday meals just as enjoyable as they always have been while managing diabetes.

1. Start recipes from scratch

Boxed stuffing, boxed or frozen potatoes, and other easy go-to meals are not always the best options for blood sugar management. Packaged and shelf-stable items often contain extra sodium and refined grains that are not diabetes-friendly.

Try starting from scratch! Stuffing recipes made with whole-grain bread contains tons of fiber, and fiber helps slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream. Preparing a dish from scratch will also help you to regulate portion sizes better.

2. Plan your carbs

The meal options at Thanksgiving are often numerous, so heading into the day with a plan for your carbohydrates can help you not to overeat. If you want potatoes, skip the bread or choose small servings of each. If you would rather have dessert, try eating it shortly after your dinner to help minimize a rush of sugar into the bloodstream. Test your knowledge of carbs found in your favorite Thanksgiving dishes with this interactive quiz!

3. Keep an eye on portion size

Portion sizing can be one of the most helpful ways to navigate a large meal. Try to use the plate method:

  • Half of your plate should consist of non-starchy vegetables such as salad, cold veggies, or steamed broccoli.
  • One-quarter of your plate should have a lean protein such as white turkey breast.
  • The last quarter of your plate should be for your choice of carbohydrate.

If you are worried that non-starchy vegetables will not be an option at your table, volunteer to cook a vegetable side dish and add to the spread! Doing so will give you peace of mind knowing you won't be stuck without healthier options.

If you finish your first round of food and consider having seconds, pause for a few minutes to decide whether or not you are still hungry. If so, consider just adding more non-starchy vegetables to your plate. Eating more non-starchy vegetables can keep you seated and visiting with the family without the added worry of spiking glucose.

4. Drinks have an impact on blood glucose

It can be easy to forget the impact beverages have on blood glucose levels. Alcohol and mixers such as juice and pop have their own added sugars and carbohydrates. Again, it will be important to incorporate those into your plan for the day. If you have questions about alcohol intake and diabetes, be sure to reach out to your physician.

Enjoy your holiday!

Most importantly, remember to enjoy the day! Thanksgiving is a time to tap into gratitude for the blessings that you have. The holiday does not have to revolve around food solely. Happy Thanksgiving!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving traditions? Talk all about Thanksgiving in this forum discussion:

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