Will holiday celebrations be different this year? Yup. Do they have to be less delicious? Absolutely not. No matter how you're getting your holiday happy on this season, these eight party recipes—designed specifically for people living with diabetes and yummy for everyone—will be a hit. But that's not all.
We also have tips on how to keep your blood sugar in check throughout the celebration season this year and beyond:
Arrive prepared. Try to eat close to your usual mealtime to keep your blood sugar steady. If the holiday gathering is later than normal, eat a small snack so that you won’t arrive hungry. Don’t skip meals to save up for a big meal. It will be harder to control your blood sugar and you’ll likely overeat. If possible, offer to bring a healthy dish.
Fill up on the good stuff. Load a small plate with lower-carbohydrate foods like vegetables, cheese, and lean protein (shrimp, chicken, and fish). Stick to heart-healthy dips like hummus and guacamole. Move away from the buffet table as soon as you’ve filled your plate so that you aren’t tempted to snack while socializing.
Avoid high-carb and high-fat holiday dishes. Sauces and marinades often contain high amounts of sugar, so stay away from things like sweetened meatballs, glazed ham, and vegetable dishes in a cheese or butter sauce. Avoid high fat, breaded, and fried foods. If you want to indulge in starches such as pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, and crackers, make sure that they don’t fill more than one-fourth of your plate to limit the amount of carbohydrates in your meal.
Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol contains empty calories. It can also lower your blood sugar and interfere with diabetes medications. If you choose to drink, have a glass of wine (which has only 2 to 4 grams of carbs in a 5-ounce glass) or champagne (which has just 1 gram of carbs in a flute). If you prefer a mixed drink, choose an unsweetened liquor (spirits like vodka and whiskey contain 0 grams of carbs) with a calorie-free mixer (like club or diet soda). Avoid sweetened drinks, liqueurs, wine coolers, and beer if you want to limit your carbohydrate and calorie intake. Make sure to eat while drinking to minimize the effects of alcohol on your blood sugar.
You can have your cake (and eat it, too)! If this is the one time of year that you like to indulge, pick one of your favorites and enjoy it at your holiday party. Scan the dessert table to find the best choice. Treats made with dark chocolate, nuts, and fresh fruit often have less carbs than traditional holiday cookies, cakes, and candies. Pumpkin pie is a better choice than pecan pie since it contains less fat and calories in the filling and crust, and has significantly less sugar. Slow down and savor a small serving of your holiday favorite.
The holiday season is about celebrating and connecting with the people you care most about. Focus on the fun (not just the food) to stay on track with your blood sugar control. —Carmen Roberts, R.D.