It’s time to consider ways to manage your blood sugar on Thanksgiving…or not. Some people don’t make a plan and decide NOT to pay attention to their diabetes on Thanksgiving.
It’s a personal choice. But whatever you decide it’s good to have a plan.
Here are some things to consider as you decide how you’ll handle turkey day, and some strategies that people with diabetes use.
As you probably already know, the problem with Thanksgiving is the abundance of food and the tradition of eating large portions. This wreaks havoc on glucose when you have diabetes. After eating too much your glucose will be too high and you may feel fatigued, have excessive thirst and urination, as well as a headache.
Many people want to feel their best and it’s worth it to them to have a plan to enjoy their day with plenty of energy rather than high sugars.
The main thing you need to do is spread your food out throughout the day, giving your body a chance to digest the food and take care of the glucose in smaller doses.
This is the main reason 3 meals a day works well. Paying attentions to portion sizes is also key.
Here are some things to try this Thanksgiving:
- Do not skip breakfast. Going too long without eating can cause you to get overly hungry, or your glucose can drop too low. If you’re starving, you don’t stand a chance of not overeating.
- Have two Thanksgiving meals, one mid-day and one in the evening. Spread your favorite carbohydrate-rich foods over two meals. You could even enjoy pecan pie, if you really want it, without your glucose being out of whack if you enjoy that as the carbohydrate for one of your meals, along with turkey, and non-starchy vegetables. At your other meal, skip the dessert and choose your very favorite sides.
- Decide ahead of time how much you will eat. Will you stop at one plate?
- Choose only your favorites. Leave foods that are not special. I always choose dressing and have no problem leaving rolls in the basket.
- Eat slowly savoring every bite.
- Enjoy leftovers. Remember you don’t have to eat it all today.
- Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks. This will limit your calories and increase your chances of sticking to your plan.
- Go for a family walk or play flag football after eating. Physical activity helps bring glucose down.
Here are some tips for those hosting Thanksgiving:
- Be sure to include plenty of non-starchy vegetables. Non-starchy veggies are all EXCEPT potatoes, peas, beans, corn, and winter squash.
- Have each person serve their own plate. Don’t take their choices personally or comment on how much or what they are choosing.
- Don’t have serving dishes on the table where everyone is eating. People are more likely to overeat if the food is right there and easy to reach. Help your guests enjoy their food without overeating.
- Don’t be a “food pusher”, insisting people eat more.
Here’s how to handle the “Food Pusher”
If a “food pusher” is in your midst, begging you to eat more, be firm and politely tell them how much you have enjoyed every bite but you just can’t eat anymore.
If that’s not enough for them to stop, ask to takes some home for later. I’ve known some people who threw the food away when they got home, but they got out of there without eating more than they wanted.
For the people who choose to ignore their diabetes on Thanksgiving
You still need a plan. Ignoring diabetes is like taking a “diabetes vacation”. This can work fine if it is short-lived with the time frame decided on in advance. For instance, you can choose that just for today I am going to eat whatever I want without attention to portion sizes.
Blood sugars will be high but if it’s only for a day, and you get back to your diabetes care the next day, a one day diabetes “vacay” will likely not lead to any problems, other than fatigue.
But don’t let it go until New Years!
I am thankful for each one of you who stay in touch with me, read what I have to write, and work to manage your diabetes. I truly appreciate your support and I’m grateful my business helping people with diabetes is thriving. Enjoy your Thanksgiving and remember to count your blessings.