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4 savvy ways to navigate holiday eating with diabetes

Toby Smithson
Toby Smithson

Dinner rolls, potatoes, cranberries, casseroles, cookies, cakes, and pumpkin pie, oh my. The holidays are coming and that means there will be food-filled gatherings everywhere we turn. For people with diabetes this can be an especially challenging time to navigate carbohydrate-rich foods while trying to manage blood sugar levels.

Having a roadmap of options to help you get through this time of year can be helpful. As a registered dietitian, certified diabetes care and education specialist, and person with diabetes, the tips below help me navigate holiday parties and get-togethers and may help you too. These tips can work for any event, whether it is at your own home, someone else’s, or even at work. Follow these tips to stay ahead of high blood sugar and weight gain:

Make a Plan

If the holiday meal is being served in your own home that’s a huge advantage. Plan your menu to include family favorites, but also plan food choices that fit into your own meal plan. Afterall, your meal plan most likely is the healthiest choice.

If you are eating at someone else’s home, ask what foods will be served and offer to bring a dish that also will fit into your eating plan. Everyone will love these Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Bites that can be served as a dessert. Made with egglife egg white wraps they are low-carb, gluten-free, and diabetes-friendly.

If you don’t know what will be served ahead of time, scan the holiday buffet or menu before you start filling your plate.  Think of this as shopping for the best value. This will help you navigate how to fit in your favorite holiday dishes. You want to make sure to include at least one of your favorite foods at this meal.

Have it your way

Choose your favorites and leave the “just okay” foods.  For instance, I’m not a huge fan of bread or dinner rolls, so I leave that off my plate to make room for my “must have carb choices”. Egglife wraps are a healthy swap to keep the carb-content low in many traditional recipes (like these Apple Pie Bites).

Another way you can have the holiday foods is to plate your food in small portions like you are eating at a Tapas style restaurant. Often a taste is all you need.

Forget skipping meals

In fact, it may even be helpful to eat a snack before your holiday gathering occurs.  Skipping meals tends to make you hungrier and when you are very hungry it can affect your decision-making process.

If you are taking medications with low blood sugar side effects, your blood sugar may drop before you get to mealtime. For people with type 2 diabetes, when you skip a meal, your brain will think you are starving yourself and will trigger your liver to spill more glucose into your liver to “save you”. And if you were skipping a meal to save calories for the holiday meal, that will backfire on you. Studies show that people tend to gain weight when they skip meals. When you have diabetes, your body works best when you keep a consistent eating routine. Choose a snack like the egglife bite- size eggnog rolls or the low-carb charcuterie board– both are diabetes friendly as they are low in carbohydrate and high in protein to help you feel satisfied until the official holiday meal is served.

Enjoy the people you are with

Remind yourself that the holiday get-together is not just about the food but is also about celebrating the people you are with. For an extra bonus, ask if anyone is interested to take a walk with you after the meal.  This also offers great family or friend bonding time. With diabetes management, balancing your food and physical activity is helpful. Physical activity can lower stress as well as help lower blood sugar after a meal.

Having options to manage your blood sugar can make things less stressful during the holiday season. People with diabetes absolutely can enjoy the festivities with a little planning and tweaking of what ends up on your plate. With less than 1 gram of carbohydrates and 5+ grams of protein per wrap, egglife wraps offer an easy solution for people who want to manage their diabetes yet still enjoy the foods they eat. You can find more delicious low-carb, diabetes-friendly recipes and uses for egglife wraps, here.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!