Most people throw healthy eating out of the window during the holidays, but for people with diabetes, that isn’t really the best option. The American Diabetes Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both recommend eating well as a way to manage diabetes and note that monitoring blood sugar is one of the most important parts of this.
Diabetes doesn’t take any days off, but making good choices for your blood sugar doesn’t have to be stressful or take away from enjoying holiday meals. Here are a few tips to make holiday dining less stressful.
1. Meal Planning
Taking the time to work out a plan for meals during the holiday season can do away with the stress of last-minute food decisions that might negatively affect your blood sugar. Meal plans can be a way to schedule out exactly when to make certain meals, or they can simply be a guideline for what meals to make throughout the week.
Either way, balancing proteins, vegetables, and carbohydrates—and not too many of each—is the best choice for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Read more about the recommended Diabetes Plate method at www.diabetesfoodhub.org/articles/what-is-the-diabetes-plate-method.html.
2. Meal Prepping
Meal planning is great by itself, but meal prepping is what makes it work. If your plan wasn’t specific, make several sides and main dishes that are low carb, low sodium, and mix and match them throughout week.
Take the time to look at nutrition labels while grocery shopping. Stock up on vegetables like broccoli and asparagus that can be roasted quickly in the oven. Foods like black beans are also good to keep because they can be used in a variety of dishes, and they have more lean protein.
Planning holiday gatherings allows more control over the menu, which means including more dishes that are healthy and delicious. Eating carbs is fine when they’re paired with foods that have protein, fat, or fiber. That keeps your blood sugar from rising quickly.
Keep guests happy by making food and treats that anyone can eat, regardless of whether or not they have diabetes. The ADA’s diabetesfoodhub.org has an extensive recipe library that has healthier versions of classic recipes, so you can make your blood sugar and your guests happy.
4. Bringing a Dish
With so many holiday gatherings to attend this season, bringing a dish might be another good option. Having a “safe” food that you know won’t affect your blood sugar too much will help fight the temptation to eat everything in sight. Plus, making a blood sugar-friendly dish will also be helpful for anyone else at the party with diabetes!
All of the sweet treats and carb-heavy foods can seem daunting, but luckily, Thanksgiving football games and holiday cheer don’t factor into blood sugar readings. Be sure to make the most of time spent with friends and family this season.
By choosing to take care of your health and eating foods with good nutritional value and less starch and sugar, you’re empowering yourself. Remember that being proactive about your health will keep you around for more holiday fun in the future!
Column by QualChoice Health Insurance. All source information courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Psychological Association.