Ahh, the holidays. Time to gather with loved ones, reflect on the best parts of your year, and celebrate with the almighty food fest. If you’re diabetic, your feast might differ slightly to others. But while your diet prohibits total reckless abandon, it’s worth sticking to for your health, and for your loved ones who want you around well into countless new years.
Here are some friendly reminders and suggestions to guide you safely through the end-of-year sugar gauntlet. Please proceed with caution and moderation, but always have a good time.
Before you get too jolly, don’t forget cocktails are mostly sugar. Bitters, simple syrups, grenadine, soft drinks…they all raise the sugar content in your liquids. Hydrate with water before any celebratory glass, and always after. You can also switch it up with some unsweetened tea, which always aids in digestion.
Veggies and nuts are perfect for nibbling on to avoid overeating during the meal. If carrot and celery sticks are too boring, try asparagus spears and edamame. Raw or roasted almonds, pecans, and walnuts are also an ideal mix. Sorry, they can’t be salted, honey-coated, or chocolate-covered and still be considered healthy.
Always watch your carbohydrates and your portions, especially at big meals. Experts at the Mayo Clinic suggest that between 45 and 65 percent of your total calories should be carbs. Cheat if you must, but for those of you staying on the nice list, here’s how to get the most benefit out of your holiday foodstravaganza:
If you just can’t quit red meat, always go for the leanest cuts of grass-fed beef and trim off any visible fat. Feeling fishy? Fresh, grilled, or baked (not fried) salmon, mackerel, or tuna all have omega-3 content that lowers blood fats. For you, land-bird lovers, skinless chicken or turkey get the go-ahead. Vegetarians and vegans may choose from tofu, tempeh, seitan, and even plant-based burger patties.
The American Diabetes Association recommends half your plate be taken up by non-starchy vegetables like artichoke, eggplant, and Brussel sprouts. When it comes to green veggies, the darker the better, as they’re low in calories and carbs, and high in key vitamins and minerals. Bring a good fats salad to the potluck with spinach, quinoa, kale, avocado, pistachios, and an olive oil-based dressing.
As a little healthy holiday extra, here’s the recipe for our favorite super-easy, diabetes-friendly salad dressing:
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tsp white wine vinaigrette
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp hummus (optional)
1 garlic clove, crushed or finely diced
½ tsp each dried or fresh parsley, rosemary, and basil
Salt and pepper
Please feel free to adjust to your liking.
What’s great about diabetes is you don’t have to swear off dessert entirely, especially when someone like Martha Stewart’s got your back. Keep watching those portions and counting those carbs, especially if you’re not on a gluten-free diet. Skip the starch at dinner if you know you’ll be having seconds of dessert. There are a number of low-sugar options that rely on the natural sweetness in fruit (fructose) to satisfy the biggest sweet tooth, like poached stone fruit or a citrus cobbler.
We, of course, want you to stay off the naughty list, which includes ditching any processed foods (no hot dogs, bacon, or pepperoni) and refined sugars (always read your labels!).
Need a hit of something sweet? An apple a day does, in fact, keep the cardiologist away because it lowers your bad cholesterol. It also helps with digestion and is a great source of fiber.
Happy eating and happy holidays from all of us at MedTruth!