We all look forward to the wonderful smells and tastes of this special day. If you are struggling with managing your diabetes or just trying to lose weight, you may have concerns about how to enjoy yourself yet keep your blood glucose in control. Here are some practical approaches you can use to plan ahead:

1. Ask the host/hostess about the menu before the day. You will need some fairly simple items to fill up on. For instance, many people seem to only serve high calorie starches and side dishes with the turkey, like stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, rolls, cornbread stuffing, corn casserole, green bean casserole and jellied cranberries - can you think of more? If this is the case, just ask if you could bring something to help out—and make it a light vegetable dish like asparagus, or roasted Brussel sprouts or a salad. Then you have something green and filling to put on your plate along with white meat turkey, a serving or 2 of the starch of your choice, and a light touch of gravy. You know your portions by sight by now—fill half your plate with vegetables and the other half with the meat and starch.

2. Eat slowly. Find the slowest eater at the table and pace yourself with him/her. Slowing your eating speed will help you notice your fullness and avoid taking seconds. Savor the tastes and enjoy the conversation—and leave the table satisfied but not stuffed.

3. Hors d’oeuvres: There often are food trays to nibble from before dinner. Don’t arrive super hungry, or you will find the goodies irresistible. Search for the more reasonable choices—a few veggies and dip, a taste of the cheese with a cracker, 5 or 6 nuts, a few pieces of shrimp in cocktail sauce, non-caloric beverage to sip. You might even bring your own diet iced tea, soda or sparkling water, just to be sure.

4. Dessert: Now it becomes even more difficult. You are probably full by now, and could pass on dessert. Or, maybe you have brought a creative low sugar dessert to share with everyone (other people appreciate lighter options, too). If all else fails, take a piece of the pie home, and eat it later.

5. Blood sugar checking: Know where you are starting, and where you are going. Don’t be afraid of a little “bad” news; learn to manage a higher blood glucose. Check your blood glucose before dinner and 2 hours after you started to eat. You might eat a lighter breakfast, and make lunch more of a snack, and the appetizers are the second half of lunch (in your carbohydrate planning). With the high fat content of the meal, you might find your blood glucose is within limits. Our family takes a walk after dinner and before dessert on Thanksgiving. A walk will lower your blood glucose and reduce the full feeling.

Preplanning, that is, thinking through the day in terms of what you eat, how much, what you drink, your exercise, your medications and blood glucose monitoring, will allow you the freedom to have a good time and feel good about your diabetes management.

Good luck…and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at DiabetesCare.net!


Article by DiabetesCare.net RD/CDE Sharon Howard

Sharon Howard is a registered dietitian with more than 25 years experience counseling individuals with nutrition issues including diabetes, weight loss, eating disorders, lipid disorders, celiac disease, renal disease, and bariatric nutrition. Sharon is a charter Fellow of the American Dietetic Association and a Certified Diabetes Educator.


Article originally posted by DiabetesCare.net on November 15, 2010.