Senior Health

12/15/2020 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Cookies, candies, and fudge – oh my! The holidays conjure sweet thoughts of peppermint candy canes, spicy gingerbread men, and the smell of warm sugar cookies on a cooling rack, awaiting colorful icing decorations. Special foods and treats are a big part of holiday traditions, and staying completely away from these foods is difficult. Here are some ways to enjoy holiday eating with diabetes, while still successfully managing your condition.

Healthy Holiday Eating Tips: Don’t Fail to Plan

You may have heard Benjamin Franklin’s quote “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Planning your holiday eating will be important during this time, where schedules tend to shift and be “off.” Holiday meals are often served at different times than your body may be used to, whether to accommodate family traditions, sports schedules, or traveling.

If your holiday meal schedule will be different, plan a healthy snack to be eaten during your normal mealtime to keep your numbers consistent. Choose raw vegetables or another low-carb snack in preparation for consuming other foods that may be higher in carbs. If you will be attending a party or eating at someone else’s home, ask about the menu ahead of time so that you can plan what you will eat ahead of time, or bring a dish if necessary.

In addition, never skip a meal to “save room” for the next!

Eat Your Vegetables

Holiday eating with diabetes brussels sprouts

No matter your age, it will always be important to eat those vegetables! If your traditional holiday dinner is not known for being filled with healthy, non-starch vegetable dishes, try to add a new favorite. This decadent dish – Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon – is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Sprinkle a handful of pomegranate seeds on top for more holiday color! A colorful garden salad is always a quick, easy option.

Slow Down, and Drink More Water

Higher blood glucose levels can cause dehydration, so it is even more important to drink sufficient water. Pacing yourself by eating slowly and drinking before you eat will make you feel full more quickly and will help keep you hydrated. It will tell your brain that you are full more quickly, which may help prevent overeating. Add fruit juice or cucumber slices to your water for added flavor.

Nutrition and Holidays: Make Small Ingredient Swaps

Will you really know that the cheese in your favorite dish is low-fat cheese? That your coffee creamer is sugar-free? Or that you have swapped out a few whole eggs for egg whites? Being sneaky with ingredient swaps will enable you to enjoy the dishes that you love while still counting calories and carbs. Holiday eating with diabetes doesn’t have to feel like a huge sacrifice!

Need some inspiration? We’ve put together some healthy recipe twists on common holiday dishes!

Limit Alcoholic Beverages

Seniors getting drunk on Christmas while enjoying holiday eating with diabetes

Speaking of drinking, choose your calories and carbs wisely. Many cocktails are loaded with carbs, especially when added to sugary mixers such as juice and soda; a glass of wine may be a better option. Limit the number of alcoholic drinks, choose sugar free mixers, and do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach.

Get Moving!

Although it is easy to sit around the table or a cozy fire enjoying the company of family and friends, keep moving! Be active, maintain a daily exercise routine, play outside with the grandkids, or get in a quick walk with a family member while catching up one-on-one.

If You Don’t Love It, Don’t Eat It!

Pick only the foods that your favorites; one of the easiest ways to enjoy holiday eating with diabetes? Know that you don’t have to eat some of everything! If a food item is something (such as a carb-filled dinner roll) that you may have more often throughout the year, instead choose only the pumpkin pie or cranberry sauce that is typically only served during the holidays. Remember to eat the same amount of carbs that you would normally eat in order to keep your blood glucose levels normal.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff