When seasonal winter decorations make their first appearance, our thoughts often turn to our favorite holiday meals and beverages. Unfortunately, many of the season’s all-star dishes rely on sugar and fat for their flavor, making them not very good for us. And for people living with diabetes, poor eating habits can be harmful to your body. This even applies to choices made in just a single day.
Over 892,000 Louisiana and Mississippi residents have diabetes, and this disease is something many of our friends, family members and neighbors are dealing with. A strict or limiting diet can be even more frustrating than usual during the holidays, which leaves open the temptation to abandon it altogether. But this is not the time to give up hope! There are lots of ways to enjoy this celebratory time of year without sacrificing too much of what you enjoy most.
Here are a few tips for how people with diabetes can navigate the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day while feeling great too.
Eat Your Breakfast
People often skip breakfast in preparation for a holiday feast in order to theoretically save room for their favorite foods. However, the longer you wait to eat, the less willpower you will have when it comes to avoiding the urge to overeat.
If you typically eat breakfast, stay consistent even through the holidays. You can do this by incorporating a protein and fiber-rich meal that will help you feel fuller longer, even as the holiday dinner hour rolls around.
Step Away from the Food
As simple as it sounds, move the conversation and congregating and eat in a separate room from where food is served. This can make a tremendous difference in mindless eating. This may mean staging your food in the kitchen and setting up your dinner table in a separate room or bringing appetizers out one at a time instead of having to monitor your snacking around an unlimited buffet.
Make It Count
Negotiate for the holiday fare that’s really worth it to you, and pass on the stuff that’s not. This may mean skipping the frozen rolls and pre-packaged sides but relishing that homemade dressing or pie.
Take Your Time
You’ve waited all year for this moment. Don’t feel guilty. Take your time and enjoy every last bite. When we take our time and really savor our food, we’re less likely to overeat.
Mind Your Portions
The more we pile on our plate, the more we’ll likely eat. Help limit your portion sizes by using small plates or salad plates to modify your overall portion size.
Low-sugar, low-carb and low-calorie liquids are your best options. And as always, aim to keep alcohol intake moderate as well.
Start a tradition with your family and introduce a family stroll after your holiday meal. Not only does exercise aid with digestion, but it’s also a powerful tool for blood sugar management as well.
Eat Meat and Vegetables
The great thing about the holidays is the popular main attraction of turkey, which happens to be an excellent source of lean protein! Vegetables are no stranger to the dinner table, and are also essentials for any holiday plate.
Salt Is Overrated
Instead of piling on salt and sugar, use spices, herbs and other high-quality seasonings to make your dishes taste incredible. Here are some “salternatives” that you can experiment with to cut down on your sodium intake this year.
And Last but Not Least — Enjoy Your Family More
Making our holidays less about the food and more about the people who help you partake in the food translates to building memories and moments that will fulfill your spirit even more than food.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Nov. 28, 2017.
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