National Diabetes Month: Tips for Hosting a Diabetes-Friendly Thanksgiving

Sunrise Senior Living  |  November 15, 2022
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In the U.S., Thanksgiving is typically thought of as the kick-off to the holiday season. It’s often a day to spend enjoying the companionship of friends and loved ones and, of course, copious amounts of rich foods and festive drinks. For the nearly 40 million Americans who live with diabetes, these menu options can wreak havoc on necessary dietary restrictions and make navigating the holiday table quite challenging.

When temptations abound on Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season, it’s more important than ever to manage your diabetes in a smart, thoughtful way.

A Guide for Managing Your Diabetes During the Holidays

Here are a few tips to help you safely navigate seasonal celebrations when you live with diabetes:

Plan ahead to make smart food choices

When it comes to a holiday dinner or buffet, eating well can be a matter of making the right choices. For example, if one of the appetizers is a vegetable tray, fill up on veggies. They’ll take the edge off your hunger so you’ll be less inclined to overindulge on the foods that aren’t great choices for people with diabetes.

Whenever possible, try to get an idea of what will be served during dinner before you sit down to eat. This will allow you to plan your choices. For example, if you know you won’t be able to resist your aunt’s trademark pumpkin roll for dessert, skip the potatoes and stuffing.

Know which holiday treats to limit or avoid

Unfortunately, holiday foods aren’t exactly synonymous with a diabetes-friendly diet. Sweets, high carbs, and rich foods seem to go hand in hand with seasonal celebrations. You might still be able to indulge in some of your favorites by strictly limiting portion size. There are some, however, that you should probably avoid completely.

Alcohol is a prime example. It can cause your blood sugar to swing dramatically, and it’s often loaded with calories. That’s especially true if you like to indulge in cocktails that contain eggnogs, creams, and other sugary mixes. According to WebMD, one drink counts as two fat exchanges, so keep that in mind when you reach for the holiday grog.

Here are a few other interesting facts about alcohol and diabetes:

  • Alcohol stimulates your appetite. When you drink, your willpower and judgment may become weakened, which can lead you to make bad food choices.
  • Sweet wine and beer contain carbs, which can impact your blood sugar.
  • Alcohol can interfere with medications or insulin, putting you at risk for problems with your diabetes.

If you’re unsure of whether or not you should be drinking alcohol, talk to your doctor. They may tell you to avoid it altogether, or they might advise you on how much your limit should be.

Prioritize healthy self-care

Putting your health first during the holiday season is important.

For individuals living with diabetes the following holiday reminders might be helpful:

  • Sleep deprivation may cause you to eat more, especially comfort foods. Most of which are high in sugar, carbs, and fat. Precisely the kinds of foods you’re likely to find on the Thanksgiving table and at other seasonal gatherings. Try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night
  • Getting regular exercise is also important when you are trying to manage diabetes. Don’t let a busy schedule cause you to skip your workouts. It not only helps burn off extra calories—it can also help reduce stress.
  • Finally, stay on track with your medication schedule and continue to monitor your glucose. Both are essential, but easy to overlook when you are on-the-go.

You don’t have to do it alone – find a buddy

For many individuals living with diabetes, they may feel lonely or isolated around the holiday season because of their dietary restrictions. However, just because they are the only person with diabetes in the room, chances are there is someone else at your holiday gathering with some type of food restriction. Having a companion who understands the struggle of having to watch everything they eat could be a good way to feel support throughout the gathering. Whether it your vegan aunt or cousin with a nut, shellfish or gluten allergy, there are people who can help you navigate the holiday table.

Celebrating the Season at Sunrise Senior Living

Finally, try to remember what’s truly important about the season. Holiday parties are for gathering with those you hold dear and enjoying one another’s company. At Sunrise communities, the holidays are a joyful season. From an abundance of programs and events to festive decorations, the holidays are a great time to schedule a personal tour. Call 888-434-4648 today to set up a time!