Living with Diabetes During the Holidays: Eating Healthy

family at Christmas together

The holidays are upon us! Times will be bustling with cleaning, shopping, preparing, and visiting. Living with and managing diabetes can be especially challenging when there is so much to do!

Keeping your blood glucose in target can help you feel well day to day so you can enjoy doing what you want to do while celebrating the season.

Throughout the holidays remember your healthy eating plan:

  • Eat from a 9” plate, filling half the plate with non-starchy vegetables (carrots, green beans, broccoli, asparagus). Keeping all starches (pasta, rice, potatoes, corn) to 1 cup total (about the size of a woman’s fist). Limit meat to 3 oz. (size of a deck of cards). A side of fruit or yogurt is a great choice to add to your plate.

If you are hosting a holiday gathering, consider these tips:

  • Designate what others should bring to your gathering. Make sure you assign someone to bring healthier foods such as vegetable or fruit trays.
  • It’s OK to have “just enough.” Cut recipe ingredients in half so you do not have to store leftovers.
  • Freeze leftovers to have for another meal on a different week.
  • Hide tempting food. Store food in covered, non-clear containers. Make sure to place on a shelf in a pantry or the refrigerator that is not at eye level. Be sure to then close the pantry or cabinet door!

Try lower calorie substitutions in recipes:

  • Use 2 egg whites in place on an egg in recipes
  • Replace ½ cup unsweetened applesauce for oil in brownie and cake recipes
  • Use brown rice cream instead of heavy cream in recipes. Cook ½ cup uncooked brown rice in 2 cups unsalted chicken stock. Once cooled, blend rice and one and 1 cup low fat milk in a blender until and creamy. This makes three cups of brown rice cream. This is a substitution for any recipe requiring heavy cream, but may taste best in starch based recipes such as cream soups, macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes.

If you are going to a party:

  • Don’t stand next to the serving table at a party.
  • Drink calorie-free fluids. Calories from regular soft drinks, juice and alcoholic drinks can add up quickly.
  • Bring a dish that you know will fit into your meal plan. For instance, roasting mushrooms, red onion, peppers and squash will create a colorful, nutritious dish! Once the vegetables are cut, toss lightly with olive oil and herbs in a bowl. Distribute vegetables on a baking pan, making sure not to crowd them. Bake at 400 degrees until desired doneness (about 15-20 minutes), being sure to turn the vegetables halfway through the roasting.
  • Find a recipe for Hot Spinach Dip here.

If you want to learn more about how to manage diabetes in your day-to-day activities for any time of year, the UofL Physicians Medicine Clinics-Diabetes Self-Management Education Program is here to help. Once you have a referral from your health care practitioner, call 502-588-4600 to schedule an appointment.

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Article by: Beth A. Ackerman, R.D.

Beth Ackerman, R.D., is a registered dietitian and a certified diabetes educator with the UofL Physicians – Diabetes and Obesity Center. Beth is on the team of educators of the ADA-approved diabetes education team at UofL Physicians. She has counseled people with diabetes for more than 25 years. Ackerman serves as the Diabetes Prevention Program Workgroup co-chair for the Kentucky Diabetes Network and volunteers at Camp Hendon, a diabetes camp for children.

All posts by Beth A. Ackerman, R.D.
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