When you’re living with diabetes, big temptations loom during winter holidays that are all about celebratory meals and parties. You may need to modify some of your traditional holiday recipes, stay away from all those sugary treats, and put in a little extra effort to avoid overeating or overdrinking. But none of that should stop you from joining in the festivities and having as much food fun as everyone else.
A change in attitude can help reduce any sense of deprivation you may feel while staring at a buffet table laden with foods you’re not supposed to eat. Rather than thinking of yourself as someone who must constantly control your eating and drinking habits, think of yourself as someone who is simply committed to making healthy lifestyle choices. That puts you in the same group as the many, many people who may not have diabetes but still try to be careful about what they consume (and how much they exercise), not only during the holidays but throughout the year.
When it comes to deciding what you can and can’t eat, think about the holiday foods that mean the most to you. If some of the party treats and traditional family favorites you love are carb-rich and fatty foods, fill up on lighter choices first—salads and non-starchy vegetable dishes—so you’ll be more satisfied with smaller portions of the richer fare.
If you enjoy having a drink, wait until after the big meal, or until you’ve had a few party snacks, so that you have enough food in your stomach to dull alcohol’s effects on your blood sugar. Drink at least one glass of plain or sparkling water with your food, to dilute both the alcohol and carb content of the beer, wine, or mixed drinks that follow.
During this season of old-fashioned food and fun, keep these two oldie-but-goodie strategies in mind for getting through any holiday dinner or cocktail party: Plan ahead and bring your own. Plan to eat light (but don’t avoid eating) on those days when you know you’ll be faced with multiple temptations that evening. Schedule in some extra time to get a little more exercise. And when the party is at someone’s home, or even at the office, bring a dish that you can enjoy along with everyone else, whether it’s a low-carb appetizer, a lightened-up bowl of eggnog, or a festive, no-sugar-added dessert. Here are some ideas: