Thanksgiving can be a stressful time for many people. For those with diabetes, it's even more stressful as individuals need to be selective about food choices to keep blood glucose levels in check.
A traditional Thanksgiving meal with potatoes, stuffing, canned cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie are high in carbohydrates and fats, which diabetics usually avoid.
That doesn't mean a diabetic can't enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. A bit of careful planning will make all the difference.
According to the American Diabetes Association, you should, “plan in advance, so you can fully enjoy the day and keep your diabetes management on track.”
Skipping meals ahead of the big Thanksgiving dinner is not advised as it makes regulating blood sugars more difficult.
Marcia Bauer, certified diabetes educator in Scottsbluff, Neb., advises mapping out the meal in your mind.
“Think about what you really like to eat at Thanksgiving and what you see when you walk in the door. Then, put some distance between you and those foods,” said Bauer. “If you're sitting in front of a bowl of M&Ms, you're going to eat them.”
- Have a snack before you go to your Thanksgiving dinner to reduce the temptation to snack once you arrive.
- If you enjoy sweet potatoes, skip the white potatoes and rolls.
- Look for healthier, green vegetables.
- Avoid dishes that have heavy creams or a lot of butter.
- Avoid dark meat.
- Eat smaller portions. Or have a “sampler” portion if you want a little bit of everything.
- Get colorful. “The more color the more nutrients in your meal.”
- Trick your brain. “If your plate has contrast to your food, research has shown that you will eat 20 percent less.”
- Follow the 5-minute rule. Eat one thing, have a warm drink, then wait 5 minutes. Warm drinks sit in your stomach longer and make you feel full.
- Find someone you can be accountable to and they to you.
And don't forget to exercise. A walk before and after your meal would be ideal, depending on when your blood glucose levels are highest during the day.
The American Diabetes Association also recommends that you, “focus on friends and family instead of food.”