Between mid-November and early January, average-weight adults typically gain 1 pound, while overweight adults gain 5 pounds. During the rest of the year, most people will maintain this new weight, slowly gaining weight every subsequent year. These unwanted pounds can increase high blood sugar levels and lead to real health problems.
Food-oriented gatherings make maintaining a disciplined eating plan difficult. With all the sugary and carbohydrate-laden foods, diabetics often find this time of year particularly challenging. The best way to dodge the eating pitfalls of the holidays and avoid gaining weight is to adopt a good eating strategy.
How can a diabetic enjoy special holiday foods without gaining weight? Use these tips to eat, drink, and be merry. You will be glad you did. By keeping your blood sugars controlled, you will keep your energy level up for all the holiday festivities!
Holiday survival guide for diabetics
Select and savor festive foods
This is the time of year for special foods. To ensure you enjoy this time, selectively eat foods that you do not usually eat during the rest of the year, like your grandmother's secret recipe for stollen. Eat slowly to savor the experience and make every bite count - you will be less likely to mindlessly eat something without noticing. It is easier to control your eating habits when you truly experience the food.
Plan ahead - overeating is spontaneous, not planned
Before going to a party, visualize yourself eating a single serving of each special food, and not going back for seconds. Remind yourself that you do not have to taste everything that is being served. Pick the most incredible foods and savor every bite! Overeating is not planned behavior, it is spontaneous. By removing spontaneity, you will be able to enjoy the holidays without binging.
Having diabetes shouldn't stop you from enjoying holiday celebrations. Planning now, before the holidays arrive can help you to commit to a healthy season while you enjoy the season packed full of cheer and holiday parties.
Revamp holiday recipes for you
Celebrate the holidays by making delicious and nutritious recipes that fit into your diabetic meal plan. The recipe below is so tasty, colorful, and healthy that it will become one of your holiday favorites.
Broccoli Garden Salad
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup nonfat light vanilla yogurt
½ cup roasted chopped peanuts
1 cup chopped apples
3 cups broccoli florets
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup sliced cauliflower
½ cup sliced green onions
Toss all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
1 cup is equal to 1 carbohydrate exchange (15 gm carbs)
How to survive a holiday party……..
Plan ahead - do not skip meals beforehand
First, go prepared. Do not save calories all day long by skipping meals or snacks. If you arrive famished, it will be difficult to stop eating once you start. Be good to yourself. Eat a sensible breakfast. For lunch, have something like a lean turkey sandwich, salad, and fruit. Before the event, have a light snack. The idea is to save calories by eating low-calorie, low-carbohydrate foods that are filling, not by skipping meals.
Consciously think about what you eat
Be mindful of what you eat. During these situations, people tend to eat unconsciously. To break this cycle, avoid munching on the mints, nuts, and hors d'oeuvres when you first arrive. Instead, ask for a no-calorie, low-carb beverage like sparkling water. When you have socialized for a while and are ready to eat, take a few moments to assess the food options. Categorize them into:
• High-calorie foods - fried foods, desserts, cheeses, dips
• Low-calorie/Low-carb foods - fruits, vegetables, non-fried foods.
Select 1 or 2 high-calorie foods and then fill the rest of your plate with low-calorie, low-carbohydrate options. Be sure to sit down and enjoy your food. Order another calorie-free beverage and socialize. If you are still hungry later, repeat the process.
Opt for activity instead of additional eating
Also, engaging in an activity like taking a stroll around the neighborhood or simply standing during the party is another good choice. If people are dancing, join in! By keeping your body moving, blood sugar levels will stay down. Being prepared and mindful of what you eat in social situations will not only allow you to feel better about your choices, but it will also keep your blood sugar levels and weight down.
Other helpful tips for Healthy Holiday Eating include:
Keep Counting Carbs
Carb (carbohydrate) counting can be a great way to control blood glucose levels and weight. If you’re going to attend a holiday dinner offer to bring a dish, such as dessert, that you know the carbohydrate content.
Make One Trip to the Buffet Table
Make only one trip to the buffet table and remember to load up on salad and vegetables first. Avoid creamy dressings, foods with breading and condiments that are high calories and fat.
Socialize Away from the Table
The most popular socialization area is usually in the kitchen or near the food table. Many times people talk and eat, without realizing what they are consuming. This is a dangerous behavior that can lead to overeating and surprisingly high blood glucose levels.
Bring your own beverage
Bring your own carbohydrate-free beverage if you don't want to have plain water and aren't sure whether diet or sugar-free drinks will be offered.
Limit or avoid alcohol
Studies have shown that alcohol stimulates food intake and can also increase feelings of hunger. Having your judgment impaired and stimulating your appetite is a recipe for failure if you are trying to follow a diabetic diet or weight-loss plan.
Continue Exercise and Record Keeping
Exercise is important especially during the holidays. Find a way to work physical activity into your schedule, whether it is with a quick exercise video, mall walking, or a trip to the gym. This will really help keep your blood glucose levels controlled and decrease weight gain.
Join a support group
Many people find it helpful to talk to other people with diabetes to find out what they do when they have a problem. You can find out, for example, what others do to make better food choices during the holidays or how they fit exercise into a busy day.
Below are two delicious recipes anyone with diabetes can enjoy!
Yield: 12 to 14 slices
Source: "1,001 Delicious Desserts for People with Diabetes"
- 3/4 cup ground reduced-fat graham crackers
- 3/4 cup ground gingersnap cookies
- 8-1/4 teaspoons Equal for Recipes
or 27 packets Equal sweetener, divided
- 4-5 tablespoons margarine, melted
- 2 packages (8 ounces each) fat-free cream cheese
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup light whipped topping
- Chopped toasted pecans, as garnish
Mix graham cracker and gingersnap crumbs, 1 teaspoon Equal for Recipes, and melted margarine in bottom of 9-inch springform pan; reserve 2 tablespoons crumb mixture Pat
remaining mixture evenly on bottom and 1/2 inch up side of pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
Beat cream cheese until smooth in large bowl; beat in pumpkin, eggs, and egg whites. Mix in remaining 7-1/4 teaspoons Equal for Recipes, spices, and cornstarch. Pour mixture into springform pan.
Bake at 300 degrees F. just until set in the center, 45 to 60 minutes; sprinkle with reserved crumbs and return to oven. Turn oven off and let cheesecake cool in oven with door ajar for 3 hours.
Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Nutritional Information Per Serving (1/12 of recipe):
Calories: 213, Fat: 9.8 g, Saturated Fat: 4.3 g, Cholesterol: 47.2 g,
Sodium: 444 mg, Protein: 12.1 g, Carbohydrate: 18.2 g
Yield: 1 cup
Source: "Mr. Food Every Day's a Holiday Diabetic Cookbook"
- 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup low-fat (1%) milk
- 1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 large head romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients except the romaine; whisk until smooth and creamy.
Place the romaine in a large salad bowl and toss with the dressing. Serve immediately.
Nutritional Information Per Serving (1 cup):
Calories: 55, Fat: 4 g, Cholesterol: 6 mg, Sodium: 193 mg,
Carbohydrate: 2 g, Dietary Fiber: 0 g, Sugars: 1 g, Protein: 2 g
Yield: 5 servings (1 cup each)
Source: The New Family Cookbook for People with Diabetes Book I
- 2 teaspoons margarine
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- One 16-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 2 cups Homemade Chicken Broth OR canned reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves or ground nutmeg
- 1 cup fat-free milk
Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan.
Saute the onion until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the pumpkin, broth, sugar, salt, and cloves; stir to mix well. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Puree until smooth in a blender or food processor.
Return to the saucepan. Add the milk; heat thoroughly but do not boil. Serve at once.
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Calories: 89; Protein: 4 g; Carbohydrates: 15 g;
Cholesterol: 1 g; Sodium: 318 mg; Fat: 3g
Great success can happen when you have the support from family, friends and from other people with diabetes.
Grace C. Eaton, LPN
PHMG Patient Centered Nursing Team
Diabetes Self-Management Support
Certified Smoking Cessation Instructor
PinnacleHealth FamilyCare of Lower Paxton