Thanksgiving day is just around the corner. With the celebration largely focused on food, it’s normal for those with diabetes to feel anxious managing their blood sugar levels while still enjoying the holiday itself. The good news is, it’s possible to enjoy the holiday guilt-free while still keeping your health in check. Here, are five easy ways to partake in the holiday devoted to eating and keep your health in check, too.
It may sound like a smart idea- skip a meal (or multiple meals) before the big dinner to save up calories so you can indulge. But what really happens when you do this? Skipping meals is a sure way to increase appetite and hunger. So although you may think you are saving calories, more than likely you will eat more than normal. And when eating large portions at one time—especially carbohydrate based foods—you may notice spikes in blood sugar. Instead, eat regularly scheduled meals and snacks throughout the day focusing on a balance of lean protein, healthy fats, and slow digested carbohydrates to help regulate both appetite and blood sugar levels.
It’s hard to avoid indulging at gatherings that are food-focused like Thanksgiving Day dinner. Mouth-watering selections laid out in a colorful spread can be so tempting. Instead of getting depressed about all the goodies you shouldn’t have, use a rating scale to determine your selections. Scan the table and on a scale of 1 to 10—with 10 being your favorite—rank the foods. Then, help yourself to the 9s and 10s, your absolute favs. This will help to cut down on impulse eating or wasting valuable calories or carbohydrates on food choices you don’t really love.
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Let’s say it’s mashed potatoes. If you've got your favorite food just staring at you the whole evening, who could resist taking seconds, or even thirds when it's within arm’s reach and everyone else is having extra helpings? Try placing yourself next to a healthy dish, such as the salad, steamed vegetables, or the turkey breast. This way, you won’t be as tempted to overdo it with the mashed potatoes. If you do go back for seconds, it’s for a food that won’t spike your blood sugar levels or that has excessive calories. If you don't have a choice about where you sit, but wind up seated in front of the stuffing, pass it down the table so that it's out of reach.
If you wish to have an alcoholic beverage on Thanksgiving (provided alcohol doesn’t interfere with any medication you may be taking), it’s fine to enjoy a glass. But keep in mind that alcohol can actually stimulate appetite while lowering inhibitions. Drinking a glass of wine before the meal is served can lead you to you eating bigger portions that you had planned. A smarter bet: Starting sipping that glass of wine or beer once you're midway through your meal.
#5: Put some movement into your day.
Thanksgiving Day can be hectic, but that doesn’t mean you should ditch physical activity for the day. The more you move, the easier it can be to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, as well as burn off some of those extra calories from the big meal ahead. Work in short bouts of movement throughout the day if possible, or get up a little earlier and squeeze in 20 minutes of cardio before diving into cooking for the day. After the big meal, head out for a family walk before serving dessert. It’s a wonderful way to spend quality time together, break up an otherwise sedentary day, and burn off all that gravy and fixins!