Tips for Thanksgiving Dinner and Diabetes

Thanksgiving with diabetes is doableNovember is National Diabetes Month, and what better time than before Thanksgiving? If you’re a caregiver for a loved one with a diabetic condition, you know that the holidays can be a real issue. And since yams, marshmallow toppings, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce are on the menu, Thanksgiving dinner and diabetes pose a major challenge.

Believe it or not, though, it can be easier than you think.

Thanksgiving dinner and diabetes aren’t enemies.

Really. With some planning, a bit of tweaking and a dollop of love and consideration, your Thanksgiving will be diabetes-friendly and delectable.

Let’s see how.

Tip #1: Choices

Whether it’s the appetizer, first course, main course or dessert, make sure you have a lot of choices available. That way, your loved one with diabetes won’t feel deprived, and your kids won’t think you and your menu planning have gone off the deep end. A good rule is to balance things out: For every starchy, carb-filled choice, have a veggie or lower-carb option, too.

Is this going to increase your cooking load? Yes, it probably will. But you’ll have the pleasure of seeing everyone participate, and no one feeling left out.

And you never know, your kids might just go for the healthy choices. Stranger things have happened.

Tip #2: Help your loved one plan.

Planning is really the key to hosting a loved one with diabetes, and Thanksgiving is no exception. Speak to the staff at your loved one’s residence and tell them what’s on your menu. Ask them to make sure that your loved one eats appropriately during the day.

Of course, if you pick up your loved one on Thanksgiving Eve, you can do this yourself. Check that your loved one is eating well – and hold back on the carbs.

Tip #3: Check hydration.

Busy days make it much easier to forget about drinking – and that goes for you, too. If your loved one will already be at your home, set up a water station with a pitcher and cups, and make sure to replenish it. Drinking will help stabilize their blood sugar – besides preventing dehydration.

Tip #3: Be flexible.

Prepare to be flexible, both with your time and your cooking. Realize that once your loved one arrives at your home, everything is going to take longer. And if you find that time is running out and you’re not going to be able to make all those choices we talked about earlier, adjust the recipes you are making. Use lots of vegetables in the stuffing, and make it from whole wheat bread or whole grain crackers. Swap meringue topping for the marshmallows. You get the idea.

Tip #4: Make sure your loved one eats dessert.

Yes. Thanksgiving and diabetes doesn’t mean no dessert. And looking at scrumptious pumpkin pie without eating any isn’t going to make your loved one feel good. So watch their carbs throughout the day and make sure they have enough left over for dessert.

Tip #5: Thanksgiving dinner and diabetes isn’t just about the food.

Your loved one isn’t coming to you just for the grub. They’re coming because you are someone important in their life. Remember that. No matter what your relative says or does, no matter which health issue they are battling, they are coming because they want to share a tradition with people they care about. Try not to forget that. Make sure they feel welcome, wanted and loved.