Healthy Holiday Eating for Diabetes

By: EatingWell Editors

7 tips for having a healthy diabetes-friendly holiday meal.

7 tips for having a healthy diabetes-friendly holiday meal.
“How can I eat healthy during the holidays?”
It’s one of the most common questions asked by people with diabetes—or anyone who’s made a commitment to eating with their health in mind. And no wonder: from Thanksgiving to Passover to Kwanzaa, holidays are all about the food. And not just any food, but the types of rich celebration foods we look forward to all year long. For the most part, forgoing these foods just isn’t an option, since they’re such a part of who we are. How to do it wisely?
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1. Lighten up.

Recreate a traditional recipe to fit into your eating plan, while still preserving the goodness that makes it so treasured. That green bean casserole with fried onions, say, might be just as wonderful, or even better, with roasted caramelized onions instead.

2. Choose and cull.

While some holiday foods are essential, you might feel less strongly about others. Why not pare those foods from the menu (or, leave them off your plate)? That gives you more leeway to enjoy your “must-haves.”

3. Plan ahead.

If you’re going to a holiday party or restaurant, find out what’s on the menu ahead of time, and decide what you’re going to eat. That way you can adjust the rest of your day’s eating, activity, and medication schedules accordingly.

4. Bring your own.

If you’re going to an event where you know the foods served will be a challenge for you, offer to bring along your own dish to share. Consider a vegetable-based dish that contains little or no carbohydrate, so you can enjoy it freely. If you’ll be staying over for the holidays—say, at Mom’s—bring breakfast and lunch items to help you start your days on the right track.

5. Navigate the buffet table.

Inspect the offerings first before loading up your plate (choosing a cocktail-size plate, if possible). Make your first trip for vegetables and salad, then go back for small portions of the richer fare.

6. Have a drink if you want, but wait until after the meal.

You’ll have something in your stomach to blunt the effects of the alcohol. Before and with the meal, sip sparkling water—with lots of lime and lemon wedges to make it festive.

7. Focus on the fun, not the feast.

Spend more time in conversation and enjoying the entertainment than worrying about what’s on your plate.