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Holiday Eating tips for those with Diabetes

Posted on 11/25/2014

Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, Rene Ficek, has some holiday eating tips for people with diabetes. These tips are good anytime of the year, but especially true during the holidays when food takes center stage at many events. These tips are also applicable to those without diabetes, anyone wanting to keep  their weight and health in check.

Remember,  the  holidays are about enjoying time with family and friends...enjoy! 

I wish you and yours a  healthy and  happy  Thanksgiving!  

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November is National Diabetes Month, and it also happens to be the start of the holiday season. While it’s a cheerful time to celebrate with friends, family, and loved ones, the holidays can wreak havoc on blood sugars and waistlines. But it doesn’t have to. In fact, with a little know how, the “food coma” doesn’t have to be induced after your holiday feasts this year. With these healthy eating tips and a few food swaps here and there you can keep your blood sugar in check and avoid packing on additional pounds.  

Eat Breakfast! --  As anyone who's tried to eat sensibly knows, starving yourself now will just have you eating much more, later. To combat the urge to fill your Thanksgiving plate over and over again, make sure to eat breakfast that morning. In addition to keeping your holiday feast binge-free, eating breakfast will keep your energy level high if you're responsible for getting dinner to the table. Choose a sensible breakfast with protein and fiber so you're not too ravenous by the time the turkey hits the table.  

Follow the Diabetes plate method --  Fill up half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, fruit and a whole-wheat roll, a quarter of it with a starch like mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, and a quarter of it with lean protein such as turkey or ham. And, the more colorful your plate, the better – so add lots of leafy greens, carrots, and bell peppers to the vegetable mix. Filling up on the lower calorie dense foods ensures a sense of fullness, but doesn’t add to the feeling of being bloated or tired after your meal. The mix of food can really help balance blood sugars throughout the day.   

Drink lots of water and take a walk after eating --  Many times when people think they are hungry, they are actually just thirsty. By drinking lots of water throughout the day, you'll lower the risk of overeating. Plus, it's a great idea to take a walk after eating. This can really help to control those after meal blood sugar spikes. And if you couldn’t stop yourself it’s okay. Try not to let the guilt fester and add some exercise to your holiday by playing football or taking a walk with the family. And always remember that the next day is a new day- don’t let it be a downward spiral!   

Food Swaps --  One of the factors making blood sugar control difficult this holiday is the amount of fat in the typical Thanksgiving meal. Most often, people with diabetes are concerned with carbohydrates, and rightfully so. But loading up on fat instead of carbohydrates may have a longer lasting impact on blood sugar. Meals high in fat can keep blood sugar elevated over the course of many hours, which is more harmful than a sudden rise and drop and blood sugar. So it is important to make some simple food swaps that will reduce fat, carbohydrates, and overall calories. Simple food swaps include vegetables and bean dip rather than chips and cream based dip, salad with dressing on the side instead of green bean casserole, turkey breast or pork loin instead of high fat meat like prime rib or dark meat turkey, cranberry sauce instead of gravy, and a fruit based dessert instead of cream puffs or pies.   

Bring your own dish to every party --  As a dietitian and healthy eater, I always make sure to bring a healthy appetizer or side dish to a party. That way, I know what ingredients I used and am comforted knowing that it is truly a healthy dish. It’s always a good idea to keep a list of some of your favorite dishes that travel well and you feel comfortable enough cooking to whip them up quickly. Additionally, your hosts and fellow party mates will be grateful for a light and healthy dish to balance out the meal.  

Reduce stress with music --  The holidays are loaded with stress, so lighten your load of stress by listening to soothing music. It can immediately reduce the stress hormone cortisol in your body. Less stress leads to less cortisol- making it easier to avoid the holiday weight gain.


Seattle Sutton, BSN, RN

She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.

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