DISH ON DIABETES: 5 tips for healthy Thanksgiving eating - KMSP-TV

DISH ON DIABETES: 5 tips for healthy Thanksgiving eating

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Nearly 300,000 Minnesotans have Type 2 diabetes, and as many as 1.4 million are prediabetic. Of those, only 1 in 6 know they have the condition, but there are simple steps that can keep the Thanksgiving feast diabetes-friendly.

It's no secret that the focus is on food and family this holiday, but those who have diabetes don't need to excuse themselves from the table in order to stay on track. The American Diabetes Association endorses the following 5 strategies for enjoying a scrumptious celebration. 

1. Time your meal.

Anyone who takes insulin injections or pills to lower blood glucose levels may need to make sure that eating times align in order to avoid a low blood-glucose reaction.

While house-guests may not be able set the schedule, letting he host know about a loved one's dietary requirements is a great excuse to get nibbling privileges as the cooking continues. After all, someone has to sample to make sure everything tastes just right.

2. Bring glucose-friendly fare to snack on.

Having foods on hand that won't sabotage blood sugar levels prior to a meal is a good way to stay sated and keep the metabolism engaged -- especially when a meal schedule deviates from doctor's orders.

A platter of raw or blanched vegetables, low-calorie dip and low-fat cheese will provide an inviting snack for the cooks as well as the plate-cleaners, and a nutritional holiday offering is definitely something to be thankful for.

3. Get steamed or go green.

With carved turkey and other savory, slow-cooked treats tempting the palate, it can be easy to overlook the simple pleasure that can be found in the no-cook crunch of green salads or a quick batch of blanched or steamed veggies.

Simply seasoned vegetables can brighten up a plate and provide a pleasant texture, but a fresh salad need not take the shape of the same-old side of mixed greens at a special meal. Instead, a peppery cucumber salad made with a vinegar-based dressing could perk up the taste buds and provide a buffer to the guilty pleasures on the plate.

Going for the green on first not only puts a priority on nutrition, but it also protects against overindulgence by ensuring the Thanksgiving meal isn't dominated by carbohydrates and fatty morsels. Save the best for last.

4. Be selective.

Much of the traditional, must-have Thanksgiving fare is fairly high in carbohydrates, but remember, you get to choose what -- and how much -- goes on your plate.

It's not rude to stick to the food you really enjoy. Just because someone cooked a special meal for many, that doesn't require everyone at the table to eat a little bit of everything. Being choosy is just another way to give more attention to the things that matter.

When facing down a smorgasbord of mashed potatoes with homemade gravy, sweet potatoes, stuffing, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie and more, prioritizing your preferences and keeping portion sizes reasonable will provide satisfaction without a diet slump.

Also, keep in mind the dietary guidelines for a balanced meal while putting a plate together to incorporate fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains and protein.

5. Stay active.

Thanksgiving is all about tradition, but there are no rules against setting new ones -- like an after-meal activity. Taking a post-nosh walk or planning an active seasonal outing with the kids will keep everyone alert and ward off the after-feast fatigue to allow for more family fun.

Simply walking for as few as 15 to 20 minutes shortly after a meal can help aid in digestion, improve blood sugar levels, and work off a couple of indulgent calories. In fact, a recent study of diabetic patients who took quick walks after meals saw more improvements than those who took one long walk.


When it comes to holiday health, the benefits of conscious consumption can be enjoyed for years to come. By contrast, and a day of diet disruption can cause holiday spirits to slump if blood sugar issues arise and keep a loved one from participating.

Diet is also a crucial tool in keeping prediabetes from developing into a more dangerous chronic health problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists prediabetes as a serious health concern that increases the risk of the following:

- Type 2 diabetes

- Heart disease

- Stroke

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