Food is the center of attraction during the holidays as it brings family and friends together to share memories, traditions, and culture. Food is an important part of any celebration, be it Christmas or New Year’s Eve – food is what we really look forward to and something we enjoy the most. But what if you have diabetes and the holidays are right around the corner? Managing diabetes during holidays would be a challenge, but it’s nothing to worry about. With some modifications you can enjoy and manage your diabetes during the holidays.
Here are some simple diabetes holiday tips:
- Eat breakfast or snacks earlier in the day and avoid the idea of saving carbs for the big feast later on. If you skip meals, it may be harder to manage your blood sugar levels.
- Limit the number of servings of starchy foods on your plate. It might be tempting to have some mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and rolls however, try to choose just one of these items and have only a spoonful or small bites of each.
- Choose fruits and vegetables served raw, grilled or steamed. Avoid vegetables in creams, gravies and butter. Broccoli, baby carrots, cauliflower and tomatoes are good choices that are usually on the appetizer table.
- Enjoy your favourite holiday treats, but have only small portions of it and have it slowly. Savour the taste and texture, be smart and mindful of what you eat.
- Stick to calorie free drinks such as water, tea, seltzer, instead of punch, diet sodas or mixed drinks.
- If you choose to drink alcohol limit the amount and have it with food.
- After your meal, take a walk with family and friends. Exercise will also get you moving, keep you focused on your goals and give you a welcome break from being surrounded by treats.
Following these strategies, may help you maintain your blood sugar levels and at the same time help you enjoy parties and gatherings along with everyone else.
But what if you’re the one hosting the big feast this holiday season, this is exclusively for you. With diabetic friendly cooking strategies stay healthy this holiday season:
- Use long grain rice/wild brown rice especially for rice pudding as it is tender, not fluffy when cooked and contains medium glycaemic index and does not raise your blood sugar levels rapidly.
- Make pumpkin breads instead of plain breads, use almond or rye flour instead of wheat, it adds flavour and makes it delicious and healthy.
- Use sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes for your salads as it adds flavour and gives a twist to your regular potato salad.
- Holidays without chicken/turkey and gravy is definitely incomplete. Where alcohol is used for marination in most of the cases, try to use water or any form of curd/hung curd for increased flavour.
- Try simple sauces with asparagus and other vegetables for your baked dishes to avoid high calorie and sodium rich sauces. Vegetable sauces are a healthier option.
- Use three different fruits to make a sauce for variety and reduce the sugar content. Though the main ingredients are fruits, it gives the sweet flavour instead of extra added sugar e.g. Instead of the regular cranberry sauce try apple, orange and cranberry.
- Add some nuts to your regular vegetable salad, like peanuts to increase the protein content of the food you eat.
- Parfaits are the perfect delicacies for the holidays. Try to omit crème, any kind of extra flavoring agents, and food colors. Yes, it may not be appealing to see but it will taste yummy.
- Chocolate chip cookies are everyone’s favourite during the holiday season. Try to add some orange or lemon zest to give it a tangy taste and helps in maintaining blood sugar levels to an extent.
- Who doesn’t love cocktails and cocktail sauce where capers are commonly used. Simple substitution with olives or omitting capers would be ideal to lower the sodium content.
- Using water instead of wine during stock preparation helps in lowering the calories and alcohol content of the prepared meal.
By now you must be aware that it is possible to enjoy the wonderful foods this holiday season and keep your blood sugar stable.
Bottom-line: Managing diabetes during the holidays is not so difficult. Just make healthy food choices during the holidays, balance your food intake by limiting the sweets and desserts which are high in calories, high fat and high sugar, maintaining alcoholic drinks in moderation and ensuring good physical activity are the key points in managing diabetes during the holidays.
Enjoy this special time of the year with good health, happiness and love of your near and dear ones.
Written by Aishwarya Deepika, ENHAPP Wellness Coach & Nutritionist