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Diabetic? Here’s how to Navigate through that Thanksgiving Feast

Healthy Lifestyle| Views: 1394

Thanksgiving’s here! Turkey and dressing (or stuffing), cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, and desserts galore.

Watching the football games while the cook slaves away in the kitchen, eating until you can’t anymore, and then going back for dessert after you can walk again.

For those with diabetes, trying to keep their blood sugar under control, there are so many things that look great, but it’s hard to know what you shouldn’t eat. Especially when someone else is doing all the cooking. Here are some tasty traps to avoid, and suggestions for substitutions, where possible, that you can bring to the feast that make sense for you. You can also work with the cook ahead of time to make sure they’re available for you. Nobody wants to miss out on what’s most fun about Thanksgiving–the food!

Before the Feast – Appetizers

  • Gametime Nachos: The cook’s been kind enough to supply nachos for the game-watchers, but they can contain anywhere from 30 to 60 grams of fat, and carbohydrates per serving can be iffy for someone on a restricted regimen. Here’s a terrific recipe for Loaded Nachos that keeps the fat level per serving down to just 11 grams.
  • Bacon-wrapped Mushrooms: Everybody loves bacon, right? But for those watching their fat grams, they’re not a great option – not with 20 grams of fat per serving. Bring these Greek-Style Stuffed Mushrooms with you instead, with only one gram of fat per mushroom and 19 calories. You’ll be the hit of the party!

Main Dishes

  • Deep-Fried Turkey: While deep frying a turkey does add fat, as long as you take off the skin, you’ll be close to what you’re used to. If you’re frying the turkey yourself, frying at temperatures above 350 degrees for a shorter time means the bird will absorb less fat. Also, eat further down inside the bird. It’s only able to absorb that extra fat where the skin meets the oil, so take off those outer layers and enjoy your turkey!
  • Ham: As long as sugary glazes aren’t added, fresh ham can be a winner. If they are added, again, you can stay away from the outer edges and enjoy the Thanksgiving ham–but in moderation. According to how it’s prepared by the supplier, ham can have a tremendous amount of sodium.

Side Dishes

  • Mashed Potatoes: The carbohydrate count for potatoes is high, and if you’re using the glycemic index to control your diabetes, you already know that it’s in the mid- to high-80s for regular potatoes. Substitute sweet potatoes, instead, without added butter or salt. They have amazing taste, are in the mid-40s on the glycemic index. This Spicy Cajun Sweet Potato Mash recipe needs no butter or salt to provide great taste and nutrition.
  • Vegetables: Green bean casserole is simply a fat, sodium and carbohydrate bomb the way it’s usually prepared. Bring your own favorite, diabetic-friendly veggie dish or ask the cook to leave a few veggies  out for you to eat plain.
  • Cranberries:  You might think that the cranberries are off the menu for you, since there has to be so much sugar added to make tart cranberries taste like the side dish we all know and love. But, if artificial sweeteners are permitted by your doctor, here’s a sweet cranberry dish that can be on your menu any time.


  • Desserts are definitely not off the table for diabetics. There are some things you should avoid, though, and most store-bought pies are not friendly to your carbohydrate or fat counts for Thanksgiving Day.  But, if you don’t have time to make your own favorite diabetes-friendly dessert to take with you, here’s a great list of seven sweets you can buy in the store and take with you to the feast.

Thanksgiving shouldn’t be a scary time for those with diabetes–and with these tips for navigating the holiday feast, you’ll be able to enjoy it with friends and family… and food!

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