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Tips for a Diabetic-Friendly Thanksgiving

Turkey Day is almost here, and with it comes the question, “Will I overdo it again this year, or is it possible to have some self-control?”

For diabetics, this question is even more important, as carb-laden, high-calorie eats are central to most holiday feasts.

It is possible to enjoy Thanksgiving and to eat your favorite foods while also being conscientious about your health.

Thanksgiving Tips

Follow these basic guidelines as you gear up for Thursday’s festivities:

  1. Consider meal timing. Knowing when you’re going to eat can help you avoid blood sugar highs and lows. Especially if you take insulin or medication, be sure to time this around your big meal. If dinner gets thrown off schedule, have a snack to prevent a drop in blood sugar.
  2. Get moving. A little exercise on a day of “excess” can help your body cope with the higher caloric intake. Get moving before and after your meal, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Better yet, start a new, active tradition with your family and friends, like a game of flag football in the park, a walk through the woods or a morning run.
  3. Snack wisely. Make sure the foods you snack on before the big meal aren’t going to send your blood sugar levels on a roller coaster ride. Opt for raw or blanched vegetables with a low-calorie dip, or stick with a few pieces of low-fat cheese. If you’re going to someone else’s house, bring your own snacks to ensure you have a healthy option.
  4. Control portion size. Carbohydrates are plentiful at the typical Thanksgiving table, so be mindful of your portion sizes. Opt for smaller portions of all your favorite dishes, which will make you feel less deprived than large helpings of just a few things.
  5. Limit alcohol. If you can, avoid alcohol. If not, stick with one glass of red wine, and drink plenty of water (about two glasses for every alcoholic beverage). If you’re mingling near the food, keep a drink in your dominant hand, which will help you from reaching for snacks and overindulging.
  6. Stick with vegetables. Opt for non-starchy vegetables to help you fill up your stomach and avoid too many carbs. Dishes with broccoli, beans, beets, cabbage, eggplant, peas and collard greens are all great Thanksgiving options.

Source: American Diabetes Association,