Submitted by: Empish J. Thomas, CVI’s Public Education Manager
Every year our nation celebrates Thanksgiving Day this month. But another important observation is National Diabetes Awareness Month too. Thanksgiving is next week and everyone knows what that means: friends, family, and lots of food. Trying to celebrate one of the largest eating holidays in the US and also being a diabetic can be a challenge. With that being said, this is not the time to forget about your diabetes and meal plans, but it still should be pleasurable. The key is to not let your diabetes control you. So, instead consider some of these tips to help manage your diabetes while still enjoying Thanksgiving and all of that good food!
- Remember the reason for celebration. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on things you are thankful for and spending time with people you love; the eating and food is secondary to the celebration.
- If you are eating at a friend or family’s house ask questions about the meal. What will be served? How will the food be cooked and prepared? Finding out as much as you can beforehand can help you strategize better. Also, offer to bring a nutritious dish to share. This way you know at least one item will help you stay on track if there are a lot of unhealthy options. When you arrive, Look at all of the food options first and plan what you will eat and how they fit into your meal plan
- If you are hosting the Thanksgiving Day meal, you have more control and can prepare healthy foods that everyone can savor including yourself. Bake, broil and grill your meats. Increase fiber by serving whole grain breads, peas and beans. Have plenty of veggies on hand especially ones that are not cooked with excessive butter or sauces. Serve fresh or canned fruits in pure juice or water instead of sweet, high calorie desserts.
- Check your blood sugar before eating. Knowing your numbers will help empower you so that you can make wise and healthy decisions around what you will be eating on Thanksgiving Day. Visually impaired diabetics can use an accessible glucose reading machine as shown in this instructional video.
- Once the food has been served, eat slowly. Try to eat small portions of food, and the same amount of carbohydrates you eat at a normal meal. Drink plenty of water and choose low-calorie drinks. Once the meal is over get up from the table and go into another room. Do not sit and socialize at the table where the food was served to avoid grazing and overeating.
- IT can be tempting to “store up your calories” for the main big meal; but continue to eat your normal meals throughout the day. Do not skip meals in preparation for a holiday feast. This will keep you from overeating and keep your blood sugar under control
- Don’t become a couch potato after eating. Make time for physical activity. That could be taking a brisk walk with friends and family around the neighborhood. Or even helping with the clean up afterward. Washing dishes, sweeping, vacuuming and even taking out the trash can all burn some calories.
- Lastly, don’t take a to-go-plate. If you are eating at a friend or family’s home pass on taking leftovers with you. It can be tempting but your body and your blood sugar will appreciate it later!
So, I hope these tips for diabetics were helpful. Thanksgiving can be a great time with a little planning and preparation. Did any of these tips resonate with you? If you are a diabetic, how do you manage your diabetes during holiday meals? Share your thoughts and comments and let’s all get ready to spend time with friends and family this coming Thanksgiving Day.