This week I received the following question from

My husband was diagnosed with diabetes as few months ago and has been working hard to lose weight and control his blood sugar.  Each year we have a family gathering for thanksgiving that includes lots of food (large turkey dinner with all the trimmings and assorted pies & cakes for dessert).  What are your suggestions to ensure my husband doesn’t overeat but also does not feel deprived this Thanksgiving?

Turkey time is almost here! The holidays are upon us, which to many, may mean a time to pull out the stretchy pants.  For those with diabetes, it can be  mixed feelings of delight and after-meal guilt. It does not have to be this way however. Portion control and counting carbohydrates are the best ways to enjoy a little bit of everything without making your glucometer cry.

I do believe it is okay to indulge a little during times like this. It is a time to be surrounded by friends and family to eat and enjoy yourself. Just plan ahead. If you know that sweet potato casserole is your absolute favorite, make this one of your carbohydrate choices (15 grams of sweet potato= 1/2 medium potato) and skip perhaps, the mashed potatoes. Although the recommendation is 3-4 carbohydrate servings per meal, you can try to spread additional carbohydrates at a later time. Just make sure that you pair it with a protein or fat.

Turkey, the star of the feast, is a protein and has a neglible amount of carbohydrates. You consider this a “free” food in glucose control.  Having a good serving with your meal will also make you feel fuller faster, decreasing your craving for starches and sweets.

Do not skip meals. Many feel that by skipping breakfast or lunch in anticipation of a huge Thanksgiving dinner, will allow them to eat more during the feast. If you do this, your blood sugar will dramatically fluctuate. Spacing out three even meals will keep things under control and prevent you from dropping or spiking.

Push fiber. The more fiber a food has, the less it will raise your sugar. Green beans, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, and whole grain stuffing all are rich in fiber.

Having diabetes puts you at higher risk for heart disease, so be heart healthy conscious too. If you are cooking, try to reduce the amount of butter you use, use reduced fat milk, avoid a lot of heavy cream, and research recipes that cut down on the fat.  This will help cut a large amount of calories too.

Bring a sugar-free dessert. If you know you can’t resist digging into the sweets, there are several recipes to try that will have a lesser impact on your blood sugar. Check out . If no sugar-free desserts are available, that is ok. Take small amounts, and  only eat after you had a protein beforehand, such as turkey or ham.

Take a walk! Go out for a stroll in the crisp autumn air with your friends or family. Exercise will help lower your blood sugar after a carb-heavy meal.

Always check your blood sugar, especially on this day. When you are off of your typical routine and are spending most of the day snacking, it is good to to keep track and adjust your intake that day accordingly.

If you do “fall off the wagon,” do not beat yourself up. Just get back on track for black Friday, so you feel energized to hit the shopping!

  Happy Thanksgiving!