Holiday Dinners and Desserts Tips for Those with Diabetes

Senior Care,Senior Tips

Many holiday meals are filled with foods we all love, but they’re also filled with carbs and sugars making it difficult to manage diabetes, not to mention our waistlines.

With all the yummy treats that surround us this time of year, it can be hard to do what you need to in order to control your blood sugar levels.

One of the first things you want to do is to check your blood sugar levels often. Having your meal and snack routines thrown out of kilter, plus all the extra little temptations you just can’t resist, can cause problems with blood sugar levels.

What else can you do to survive the holidays? Let’s take a look.

Focus on People

Make spending time with family and friends a priority this holiday season. Focus on people instead of food. Gather your family and friends together for fun and games such as touch football, bocce ball, frisbee, volleyball or horseshoes. Invite someone to take a stroll with you after meals. This will give you a chance to step away from the table and get a little exercise, plus it’ll be a wonderful opportunity to catch up on each other’s lives.

Don’t Skip Meals

Don’t skip meals or snacks to “save up” so you can splurge at the big holiday meal. Skipping meals can cause your liver to think it’s starving. It then dumps glucagon into your system which can cause your blood sugar to spike. Eat regular snacks and meals to keep your blood sugar under control.

Bring Your Own Dish

Talk to your host about your nutritional needs concerning your diabetes and offer to bring a diabetes-friendly dish. Consider which part of the meal will be most difficult for you and offer to bring something that will help you get through the meal successfully. If you know dessert will be your downfall, bring one that is safe for you. Or bring a vegetable tray with a low-carb yogurt dip so you have something safe to munch on throughout the day.

Eat Snacks

To curb your appetite and to stay on target, eat a high protein, high fiber and low carb snack before going to the holiday meal.

These snacks will not significantly affect your blood sugar, but, remember, they are not considered free calories. These low carb snacks which contain protein and fat can be a terrific way to curb your appetite:

  • String cheese
  • Eggs, cooked
  • 2 tablespoons hummus
  • ½ cup cottage cheese
  • 15 black or green olives
  • Celery with one tablespoon of peanut butter
  • ¼ c yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons of shelled sunflower seeds, almonds or peanuts shelled
  • ½ cup unshelled peanuts or sunflower sees

Eat other snacks during the day to help you resist temptations. The following are considered free foods:

  • Dill pickles
  • Raw or cooked vegetables
  • Sugar-free gelatin
  • Sugar-free popsicle
  • Sugar-free drinks or drinks sweetened with sugar substitute
  • ¼ cup of salsa
  • ½ cup tomato or vegetable juice

Drink Water Before the Meal

Drinking water prior to sitting down to eat your meal can lessen your desire to overindulge.

Eat a Salad First

Eat your salad first, even before sitting down to eat if possible, then continue with the rest of your meal. This will help fill you up quicker, making you less likely to eat foods you shouldn’t later in the meal. It will also help you to feel satisfied without consuming a large amount of carbs.

Use the Plate Method

Before filling your plate, do a quick scan of the food available and decide what you want to put on your plate using the plate method. If you must try a little of everything, get a small spoon of each trying to keep the portions of carbs on target with your eating plan. Think about your selections making a plan before filling your plate and then stick with it. Avoid seconds.

Don’t Deprive Yourself of Dessert

It is the holidays, so enjoy! After all, you’re allowed one serving of a diabetes-friendly dessert using the plate method. Be sensible on your portion size. If dessert isn’t your thing, indulge in an additional carb serving during the main meal.

Get Moving

After your meal, take a walk, ride a bike or play a game. A game like touch football is a great way to get everyone moving and a wonderful way to bond as a family. Other group activities could include a hike, soccer, a game of tag, or volleyball. Smaller groups will enjoy games like horseshoes, bocce ball or croquet.

If the weather outside is frightful, everyone will enjoy twister or active charades. Get the kids moving with Simon Says using exercises like push-ups and jumping jacks. Be creative and have fun.

Use Leftovers to Your Advantage

Don’t feel like you must eat every food item on the table. Eat sensibly using the plate method; then, plan to indulge in your holiday favorites for the next couple days by packing them up to eat later. This way you can enjoy all your favorites and you don’t feel like you missed out.

Drink Alcohol Sensibly

If your holiday celebrations aren’t complete without an alcoholic beverage, limit your consumption one to two drinks with food. Alcoholic drinks count as a serving of carbs.

The carbs in alcohol can raise blood sugar levels; but, they may also cause low blood sugar for as long as 12 hours, especially if you are taking blood sugar lowering medications. If you consume alcohol, be vigilant and check your blood sugar often.

Forest Hill

At Forest Hill we truly hope your holidays are filled with wonderful times spent with those you love – remember, focus on doing things with people and put food in its place. We’d love for you to stop by and see for yourself just how “sweet” life can be at Forest Hill. Contact us today for a tour or to learn more.

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