Fitness & Nutrition

How to Manage Your First Thanksgiving as a Diabetic

October 25, 2021

If you have been recently diagnosed with diabetes, Thanksgiving can feel like a big undertaking or a huge disappointment waiting to happen. Between the amount of food available and the high possible carbohydrate load, it can cause problems for anyone trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you’re heading into the holiday season this year with diabetes on your plate, make sure to check out these do’s and don’ts before eating your fill.

DO think about timing

As a diabetic, it’s important to keep your schedule and routine, even on holidays. Make sure to test and give your insulin as you would any other day. Take along glucose tablets, juice boxes or other snacks to have on hand in case the meal is running later than planned. If you’re the host, have snacks readily available for guests and try to time the meal appropriately.

DO consider the menu

Talk to the host or hostess ahead of time about what they plan to serve. If you’re concerned there won’t be something that fits your needs, bring a healthy, blood sugar–stabilizing dish to share. If you’re hosting, take into account the special dietary considerations of your guests, including those with diabetes, so that you have something on hand for everyone. This may seem like a tall order, but having these conversations beforehand can relieve anxiety and stress on the day of thankfulness.

DO slow down and savor the meal

It’s easy to try to eat quickly, especially when there’s so much good food surrounding you. Slow down and savor each bite and engage in relaxed conversations with family and friends. Enjoy the day! It takes about 20 minutes for fullness signals to reach your brain, so the slower you eat, the less likely you are to overindulge and send your blood sugar in the red.

DO balance your plate

Fill roughly half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, one quarter with meat (turkey!) and the remaining quarter with starchy foods, if you prefer, like mashed potatoes. If dessert is too tempting to pass up, take this into account when choosing your starches. Balance your meal just as you would any other day.

DON’T skip meals leading up to the main event

Stick to your food schedule even on Thanksgiving, making sure to eat a balanced breakfast and lunch leading up to your holiday dinner. Fasting in order to overindulge will certainly backfire.

DON’T bet the ranch

Diabetes is a serious illness, especially if left unmanaged. Don’t assume it’s OK to miss one day of managing your illness. Besides, when you’re with family and friends, you want to feel your best, and if your blood sugar is out of whack, you won’t want to socialize. Bring snacks, check your blood sugar both before and after the meal, eat a well-balanced plate and slow down enough to hear your body’s “I’m full” signals. If you follow these guidelines, you are sure to have a great Thanksgiving holiday, even with diabetes.