How to Serve a Diabetes-Friendly Holiday Meal

Meal Planning for Guests With Diabetes

The holidays can be a time of great anxiety for someone with diabetes. Eating at odd times, being surrounded by tempting food and neglecting a daily routine can wreak havoc on their blood sugar – and when blood sugar is too high or too low, it can make someone feel tired, even crabby. Not the holiday spirit at all.

Take the bite out of your next celebration with these tips for a particularly diabetes-friendly holiday meal.

Keep an Eye on the Time

The time you serve a meal makes a difference for a person with diabetes, whose medicine or insulin is time sensitive. For example, quick acting insulin lowers blood sugar levels, so if your guest ends up waiting too long to eat after taking it, they may have a low blood sugar reaction, causing them to feel weak and shaky. Let your guests know the time you plan to serve, so they can plan ahead and make any necessary adjustments to their schedule.

Choose Healthier Recipes

People with diabetes can enjoy the same food as your other guests. The difference is that they will likely be calculating and planning for which foods to enjoy while managing their blood glucose. Recreate your traditional favorites with healthy substitutes and low-carb options can be a welcome nod to dietary restrictions. Check out some suggestions for green bean casserole and whole grain apple cranberry stuffing and seasonal fare such as pumpkin, which is low in calories and regulates blood sugar.

Prepare Appetizers for the Unexpected

Whether your guests arrive late or your turkey takes longer to roast, unexpected delays can sabotage blood glucose levels. Almonds flavored with pumpkin spice, delectable cheeses or seasonal fruits and vegetables offer sustenance to hold over any wait.

Go Easy on the Alcohol

Alcoholic drinks have extra calories and cause hypoglycemic reactions, so choose wisely and serve food with beverages. Opt for a variety of flavored waters or sugar free tea, or consider one of these recipes for modified alcoholic drinks.

Let Them Eat Cake

Diabetes offers a lot of flexibility in how people manage it, so don’t be shocked if someone with diabetes asks for a piece of pie. Be supportive about your guests’ food choices. While you may have very good intentions, it’s up to your guests to successfully plan ahead and navigate the holiday fare.

Plan After-Meal Exercise

Feeling stuffed after a great meal? Bundle up and invite your guests to get moving to compensate for the extra calories you’ve all consumed. A brisk walk around the block or an impromptu turkey football game will speed up digestion, burn calories and can help lower blood sugar, too – not to mention create great family memories.

Be Supportive

Diabetes is a disease that people can’t see, and it can be physically – and emotionally – draining to stick to a daily routine of testing your blood sugar, taking insulin injections and counting carbs. If someone you love is feeling frustrated, a little encouragement goes a long way. Tomorrow is another day, when you can get back on track and resume your usual eating habits.