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Avoiding Blood Sugar Spikes During Thanksgiving

with Joni Gerken

For people with diabetes, controlling blood sugar during Thanksgiving celebration can seem almost impossible without feeling like an outsider from the festivities. Fortunately, there are some tips that can help you enjoy the same foods as everyone else and not send your blood sugar through the roof. These same tips can benefit anyone looking to make healthier choices during the holidays.


1. Start with good choices early in the day.

The worst thing you can do for blood sugar control is skip a meal and then eat a large meal later. When we don’t feed our body to meet its demands for energy, our liver and muscles start releasing glucose. This self-released glucose can cause blood sugar spikes on its own, and then eating a large meal will further increase your blood sugar. The best way to start your day is with a balanced breakfast containing both protein and complex carbohydrates, such as an egg and whole grain toast or oatmeal topped with nuts.

2. Bring a low carbohydrate dish to the meal.

To balance out the many high carbohydrate options, bring something low carb, such as a vegetable side dish or a cheese plate. This way you can come to the meal armed for success.

3. If you decide to have a cocktail, wait until it is time to eat.

Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach can cause drops in blood sugar by impairing your livers job of releasing glucose to keep your blood sugar from dropping too low. Also, having a cocktail first can impair your judgement for when it is time to make good food choices. Beware of mixers, best cocktail options tend to be wine or beer, to avoid adding sugary mixers.

4. When it finally becomes time to make your plate, focus on balance and being reasonable with portions.

An appropriate plate size is a nine-inch plate. So, if you are using larger plates, resist filling it up all the way. You can have some of everything, but make sure at least half your plate is full of low carbohydrate foods. Maybe surprisingly, this is not a time to try to avoid fat. Those fattier foods can fill you up quicker and also slow down your digestion so the carbohydrates you eat get to your blood stream slower. When it comes times to eat, you may want to focus on eating the low carbohydrate foods on you plate first, so you fill up on them.

5. At every Thanksgiving meal, there is always desert.

There is no one way to deny that sugar is the enemy to blood sugar control. But if you have made good choices up to this point, a small piece of desert is not going to be a game changer. The key is to keep it small, less is more.

6. Get active after the meal.

Whether this is helping clean up or going for a walk. Exercise triggers your body to be less insulin resistant and make use of those carbohydrates you just ate. Getting active will also help you get away from the table, where you might be tempted to pick.

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