3 Steps for a Healthier Holiday
Holiday gatherings, usually filled with friends, family, and plenty of good food, are supposed to be something you look forward to. But mealtime can be a source of stress for people with diabetes. So how can you maintain a healthy eating plan when potato pancakes are stacked on serving platters and festive desserts decorate your relatives' tables?
No foods are off limits to people with diabetes. "You can enjoy a few sweets around the holidays while still maintaining a healthy eating plan," says Alicia McAuliffe-Fogarty, PhD, vice president of the American Diabetes Association's Lifestyle Management Team.
Keep reading for tips to help you holiday-proof your eating plan:
A little pre-party prep work can go a long way to helping you stay nutritionally balanced. For example, try to eat as close to your normal mealtime as possible to keep blood glucose levels steady. Make healthy choices for breakfast and lunch so you're less likely to snack, says Sacha Uelmen, RDN, CDE, director of nutrition at the Association.
It's a good idea to bring a healthy dish to the party so you have options. That said, if there's a carb-heavy food you've been looking forward to, consider cutting out other, less-healthy holiday staples to fit it into your meal plan. "If you really like the stuffing, then that's what you want to eat—skip the potatoes," Uelmen says. "If it's a potluck and you're bringing food, bring some nonstarchy vegetables that you like." (Looking for ideas? Try our Recipe Finder for healthy party foods.)
Don't Sweat It
If you end up eating more than you planned at a holiday event, give yourself a pass. "Don't worry so much about Christmas or Thanksgiving," Uelmen says. "It's just one day. Enjoy it." Forgiving yourself for a temporary lapse may make it easier to resume your healthy habits after the feast is over. "Don't deprive yourself on the holidays," Uelmen says, "but be aware of your portions and make a plan to get back on track."
Do Sweat It
If you went overboard on the holiday meal, lace up your sneakers and go for a walk. Exercise can offset some of those extra carbs and calories.
For more holiday eating tips, check out the American Diabetes Association's holiday meal planning page.