Whether you or an aging loved one has diabetes, it can be especially difficult to manage the disease during the holiday season.
From pumpkin spice everything, made with ingredients that can wreak havoc on blood sugar, to sweet and carb-laden temptations everywhere, managing diabetes during the holidays requires self-control and careful planning.
Eating Healthy During the Holidays
These six tips can help you or your senior loved one manage diabetes this holiday season.
1. Look for diabetes-friendly alternatives to family favorites.
If you’re cooking for your family, search for healthy alternatives to the dishes you usually prepare. Cauliflower mashed potatoes, desserts made with natural, sugar-free sweeteners, fresh-baked sweet potatoes instead of sweet potato pie are all examples. If you’ve been invited to a party or a dinner, offer to bring a few healthy side dishes or appetizers.
2. Take advantage of the healthiest flavors of the season. As much as the holidays might mean pumpkin treats, apple pies, fruitcake, and candy, November is also harvest time. Fill your table, and your plate, with farm-fresh fruits and vegetables.
One of the most popular spices of the season, cinnamon, has been shown to help regulate blood sugar. Use it in home-baked, sugar-free cookies and other pastries, as well as in tea and on sweet potatoes.
3. Plan ahead.
It can be hard to resist a buffet table of tasty sweets and carbs if you aren’t prepared. But the worst thing you can do is to skip eating all day to make up for a feast that evening. This causes your blood sugar to drop and then spike to unsafe levels.
If you know you’re going to a party or dinner, ask about the menu in advance. Plan what you’ll eat, taking note of carb and sugar counts. Eat a sensible breakfast and lunch.
When you arrive, fill a small plate with healthy, balanced choices, starting with vegetables. It’s okay to include a few of your favorite treats in small portions.
Then choose to mingle in a spot further away from the food for the remainder of the evening.
4. Aim for balance.
Can’t resist splurging on a small slice of apple pie? Forego the mashed potatoes or other carbs at dinner to treat yourself to dessert. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect at every meal. Just be conscious of your choices.
5. Take your focus off the food.
There’s plenty to do at holiday gatherings besides eat. When you do sit down for the meal, eat slowly, taking time to savor each bite.
If everyone at the Thanksgiving table is still indulging in second and third helpings, head out and play outdoors with the children in the group, who are probably already done eating.
Wherever you may be for the holidays, take the focus off the food and socialize instead.
6. Make time for exercise.
Suggest a walk after dinner with your family and friends. Regular exercise can help stabilize blood sugar and can help offset the effects of a large meal.
Healthy Meals at Five Star Senior Living
The signature chefs are Five Star Senior Living cook up healthy, diabetes-friendly meals every day. Find out more about the many benefits residents can enjoy at Five Star Senior Living.