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Diabetes & the Holidays

Author: be well™ with Big Y® Registered Dietitian Team

Yes, you can have pie…and more tips!

When you’re diagnosed with diabetes (or pre-diabetes), it can be easy to feel as though your food options have dwindled—especially during the holiday season. We’re here to tell you, ecstatically, that there is no reason to cancel the holidays. You can have your cake AND eat it too and here’s how!

#1. Know Your Numbers

To know where you’re going, it’s important to know where you are. If you aren’t currently tracking your blood sugar levels, talk to your healthcare provider about doing so. You’ll be able to identify where your blood sugar starts at the beginning of the day and where it goes after eating and before bed. This information will help as you attend holiday parties and step up to all the offerings.


#2. Arrive Satisfied

Regardless if you have diabetes or not, showing up to a party centered around food feeling ravenous isn’t going to end well. Having a big appetite from the onset could lead to two situations: overdoing your intake of food and subsequently feeling uncomfortably overstuffed or extremely limiting yourself where you end up feeling deprived of having what you truly want to eat.


The answer: Eat a snack with at least 15 grams carbohydrate, protein and a little bit of fat before arriving at the party. You’ll arrive satisfied and your decision-making will be purposeful versus filling the void of an empty stomach.


3. Create a Plan

You’re looking at the food options displayed before you, what to do? First, know what your blood sugar is at the beginning of the event. Then, be mindful of how certain foods impact your blood sugar.

For example, some individuals have large blood sugar spikes after eating pizza, while others may experience them after eating pasta. If you see your high-spiking foods before you—decide if you’re going to include them on your plate or choose other options.

Additionally, remember how beneficial foods from all Food Groups are for satisfying appetite and regulating blood sugar. Build your plate with a grain, fruit, vegetable, protein-rich food and dairy item. Still hungry? Make your second helpings all about non-starchy veggies.


4. Pick & Portion

There are plenty of tasty dishes at your fingertips during holiday get-togethers…and they’re meant to be enjoyed!

Take small portions so you can taste all the tastes and get the full experience, without overfilling your belly and regretting it later.


5. Drink Water

Sugar-rich beverages are no stranger at holiday parties. Focusing on water—sparkling, flat or with a splash of fresh fruit and herbs—will help prevent your blood sugar from rising and help your body digest the foods you’re eating.

Published 11/3/2021