Thanksgiving dinner does not have to be a complicated nightmare if you are suffering from diabetes. With some careful planning and restraint, you can avoid the temptations and prevent any anxieties by properly managing your Thanksgiving Day meal and your diabetes. Here are 10 tips to help you:
1. Ask for Diabetes-Friendly Dishes
If you are hosting this year's Thanksgiving dinner, then planning for diabetes-friendly dishes is a simple task. However, if you are attending a Thanksgiving dinner at someone else's house, that's another story. Don't be afraid to contact your dinner host in advance and voice your concerns over the availability of foods you can eat. Some dinner hosts may not have any experience cooking for a diabetic, so kindly request certain dishes that are okay for you to eat, or just volunteer to bring some of your own.
2. Use a Smaller Plate
Before you begin your Thanksgiving Day meal, search for a smaller plate to use. This will help with portion control if you feel you can't resist the temptation of eating too many foods that are bad for you. Just make sure you don't go for seconds.
3. Divide Your Dinner
If you haven't grown accustomed to dividing and portioning out your meal, now is a good time to start. When serving yourself food, divide your plate into sections or quadrants. Reserve half of your plate for non-starchy vegetables like green, leafy veggies and broccoli. Make one-fourth of the plate for turkey, and the remaining one-fourth for any other side dish you'd like to eat, guilt-free. Just don't try to cheat by piling your food high on your sectioned plate.
4. Trade Your Carbs
Thanksgiving is a time for carb heavy foods, and that can be a big problem for you. If you want to properly manage your diabetes, then you need to manage the carbs you eat. Scan the dishes on the table and restrict yourself to that one-fourth, and only one-fourth, on your plate for carbs. Whether it is stuffing, corn or mashed potatoes, you need to choose wisely because you can only have one. And don't forget that the dinner roll counts as a carb so don't cheat yourself because it is often served off of your plate.
5. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
If you plan on eating more food than you're accustomed to, then try exercising a little more before your big meal. Participate in a Thanksgiving Day marathon, also known as a "Turkey Trot," or try some simple, low-impact exercises before and after dinner as part of your holiday tradition. Make these activities a part of your Thanksgiving tradition to help you get through the holidays without losing control of your diabetes.
6. Watch Out For Foods with Hidden Hazards
When preparing your Thanksgiving plate, make sure you are aware of the ingredients used in the food or condiments. Cranberry sauce is a great example because it contains hidden sugars you need to be aware of. Remember to account for everything you are ingesting, whether it is a beverage, morsel of food or a type of sauce.
7. Bring Your Own Dessert
Dessert is probably the biggest challenge for a diabetic on Thanksgiving. Pumpkin pie with whipped cream or a strawberry cheesecake are desserts you should avoid at all costs, especially after eating a heavier meal than usual. To be safe, you should bring your own diabetes-friendly dessert dish for yourself, and for any dinner guests who are looking for something healthier as well.
8. Adjust for Odd Meal Times
Thanksgiving meal times vary depending on who is hosting and what traditions they typically practice. Waiting for all the guests to arrive and for all the good, primarily the turkey, to finish cooking will also affect the time you eat. This can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels because it offsets your regular meal schedule. Make sure to plan ahead if you take insulin and bring some snacks, like cut vegetables, to snack on while waiting for the meal to start.
9. Savor Every Bite
People often plow through a Thanksgiving Day meal so that they can fit more food in their bellies than they should. Do not follow suit! Savor every single bite and properly chew your food. This will allow you to truly enjoy your meal, help with digestion, and will help you to feel full before you can do too much damage to your diet.
10. Focus on the Non-Starchy Vegetables
If you really want to let loose on Thanksgiving, then focus on the non-starchy vegetables. Try to fill up on as many colorful vegetables as you can since these tend to be the most nutritious. Just be wary of how some of the vegetable dishes were prepared before you eat them. Some family recipes for Thanksgiving dishes will surprise you.