Festive Foods for Managing Diabetes

Tips for creating healthy holiday favorites

A typical Thanksgiving dinner can have more than 4,500 calories and up to 550 grams of carbohydrates. That can make holidays extra stressful for people with diabetes. Of all the nutrients in your food, carbohydrates have the most effect on your blood sugar. We can help you find lower carb options for your favorite holiday dishes. With thoughtful planning, you can enjoy holiday meals and keep your numbers on track.

Skip the stuffing

Since turkey and ham are both naturally low in carbs, your main dish probably won’t be the challenge. It’s the side dishes that can be tricky. 

Mashed potatoes are often a holiday staple and tend to be high in carbs. But they can be made healthier for the carb conscious. This Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes recipe is a great option. Add flavor with a touch of garlic, butter, chives, and scallions.

Green beans are low in carbs, but the ingredients for most casseroles add to the carb count. Instead, mix veggies with a can of mushroom soup. Then, top your casserole with caramelized onions, instead of fried ones. You can also try something new, like this Autumn Vegetable Bake.

A large dinner salad also makes a filling side. For a traditional low-carb salad, skip the croutons. Consider using a sugar-free dressing and adding a variety of cheeses and toasted nuts. Try a Zesty All-Season Salad or this Kale Salad with cranberries, apples, and pecans.

A sweet ending

You don’t have to sacrifice dessert. This Warm Cinnamon Apples recipe is a healthy but delicious alternative to apple pie.

Do a quick internet search for diabetic-friendly desserts. You might find your holiday favorite, but with high carbohydrate ingredients substituted by healthier options. Just remember, low-sugar desserts can still be high in carbs and cause a rise in blood sugar. Moderation is key.

Finally, don’t throw away your leftovers. You can continue to enjoy your holiday leftovers with this holiday bake.

Track your nutrition

Keeping a food journal can help you stay on track over the holidays. You can track both your meals and vitals with My HealtheVet's Track Health feature. By using these tools and planning ahead, you can create a full, healthy plate at each holiday meal.

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Read more

Eat Wisely (VA.gov)

Fresh Focus Podcast (VA.gov)

Diabetes: Living Your Life (Veterans Health Library)

Created on October 27, 2022