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

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: "How can I eat healthy during the holidays?"

And no wonder: 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 (and why would anyone want to give them up?). Here's how to enjoy your holiday favorites-and the holidays-while staying healthy and not stressing too much.

1. Lighten up wisely

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. Look for sneaky ways to cut back on carbs, sodium and saturated fat and add more vegetables. And for the dishes that just can't (and shouldn't) be messed with, have just a small portion.

Pomegranate, Cranberry & Brie Bruschetta

2. Go for the best

While some holiday foods are essential, you might feel less strongly about others. If you live for sweet potato casserole and could take or leave a dinner roll, leave the dinner roll. Instead of adding everything to your plate, take your favorites. Over the holidays, that might mean enjoying once-a-year family recipes over store-bought baked goods. This strategy gives you more leeway to enjoy your "must-haves."

3. Plan ahead

If you're going to a holiday party or restaurant, try to 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. Offering to contribute is helpful for both you and your host.


Pictured recipe: Cranberry Crumble Bars

5. Navigate the buffet table

Inspect the offerings first before loading up your plate. Make your first trip for vegetables and salad, then go back for small portions of the richer fare.

Cranberry-Prosecco Cocktail

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.

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