Healthy holiday eating tips for people with diabetes |

Healthy holiday eating tips for people with diabetes

Eating lots of vegetables and lean protein during the holidays help keep diabetes under control.
Sasha Nelson

— Eating healthy at holiday celebrations can be difficult especially for people who have diabetes.

In moderation, all holiday foods are nice according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“No food is on the naughty list. Choose the dishes you really love and can’t get any other time of year, like Aunt Edna’s pumpkin pie. Slow down and savor a small serving, and make sure to count it in your meal plan,” according to the CDC website.

Arin Daigneau is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and WIC program director at Northwest Colorado Health and offers these five tips:

• Don’t skip meals or snacks during the day to “save up” carbs. This can cause blood sugar problems throughout the day and will probably cause overeating.

• Think lean proteins and vegetables first as these foods have fewer carbohydrates than their starchy plate mates.

• Plan for dessert. Keep the serving size small and pass on bread or potatoes during dinner. Make lower sugar dessert using recipe substitutions.

• Drink lots of water or other calorie-free drinks.

• Walk. Stick to a regular exercise routine and add in extra walks. Going for a walk after a holiday meal or dessert can help minimize the foods impact on blood sugar.

“Over the holidays try to limit the starchy foods like potatoes, casseroles, and breads,” Daigneau said. “Choose a small portion of your favorite starchy side or if they are all too tempting, have only bite size servings of each.”

Other ways to enjoy the holidays include: eating slowly and being mindful not overdo it, skipping seconds, declining offers to take home leftovers or if hosting, offer to send leftovers home, Daigneau said.

Just as important as what diabetics eat is what diabetics drink.

“It is also important to limit alcohol, avoid sweetened cocktails and drinks like eggnog and punch,” Daigneau said.

It’s also a good idea to shift the focus from food to family.

“Enjoy your time with family and friends more than the food,” Daigneau said “If you overdo it, get back to your normal schedule and routine the next day.”

The National Diabetes Education Program has tip sheets and other resources to help in choosing healthier foods, fit in a few treats and enjoy the celebration.

Learn more at

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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