Thanksgiving can be a challenging time for most Canadians, and especially for people with diabetes. The temptation to indulge can be overwhelming, but there are simple ways to make sure your Thanksgiving feast doesn’t interfere with your diet or heart health. Here are 10 tips for staying on track courtesy of Joanne Lewis, registered dietitian and manager of diabetes education for the Canadian Diabetes Association:
Don’t skip meals: Avoiding eating all day, then binging, can lead to blood sugar drops and spikes. The safe bet: Stick to your regular meal plan throughout the day, and eat in moderation.
Cut back on appetizers: Eat responsible portions of the special foods you only have once a year, like stuffing or turkey. Try to avoid overindulging in fatty, high-carb appetizers that fill you before your main course even arrives.
Limit alcohol: The wine may be flowing, but drinking too much can lead to blood sugar drops and weight gain. Always try to stick to the Association’s alcohol guidelines (10 drinks a week for women, and 12 to 15 for men), and remember that one standard drink is 10 g alcohol, 341 ml of 5 per cent alcohol beer, 43 ml of 40 per cent alcohol spirits, and 142 ml of 12 per cent alcohol wine. If you haven’t already, speak with your health care team to find out if drinking is safe for you.
Choose white meat: White meat is leaner and less fatty than dark meat. Really, is the slight difference in taste worth the extra calories?
Make fat-free gravy: If you have to have a drizzle of gravy, make the gravy ahead of time, let it cool and skim the congealed fat off the top first. Alternatively, use a gravy measuring cup that will skim the fat off for you.
Skip the dinner rolls: Dinner rolls can lead to waistline rolls, and white bread is loaded with low glycemic index carbs. Stuffing can be equally unhealthy, so if it’s the special food you only indulge in once a year, ensure it’s a moderate portion and count it as your carb.
Load up on veggies: Mashed white potatoes may make your mouth water, but equally tasty veggies like Brussels sprouts and broccoli are low carb, low fat and won’t affect your blood sugar.
Slow down: A tasty Thanksgiving spread can trick you into eating quickly, but don’t forget that Thanksgiving is also great time to talk with friends and family, and allow your body time to digest. Since your stomach takes roughly 20 minutes to tell your brain it’s full, the slower you eat the better. Strike up a conversation, put the fork down between bites, and always stop eating when you’re feeling full.
Go for a post-meal walk: Purge the urge to continue eating by walking around the block with a friend or family member. You’ll burn off some of the excess calories and feel better for it.
Stay positive: As with other foodie holidays, there is no getting around the fact that people with diabetes have to approach things differently. But focusing on a few of the special foods you love most, and choosing moderate portions can help ensure you have a great, healthy meal.
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