BERGEN COUNTY, N.J.-- You can have your pumpkin cheesecake and eat it too this Thanksgiving, even if you (or a loved one) has diabetes.
So explained ACME Markets Dietitian Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, who told Daily Voice: "Making some simple switches in your diet and lifestyle will get you closer to your goal of feeling great and getting your diabetes under control -- all while eating the foods you love."
What follows are tips for a diabetes-friendly Thanksgiving feast. You can use these tips as well for the upcoming holidays.
- Encourage sensible serving sizes by using small plates and bowls (and even small forks and spoons) whenever possible and keeping your carb-heavy side dishes like potatoes, rice, or bread to a maximum or half a cup (the size of a tennis ball or ice cream scoop). With diabetes it’s not only what you eat but how much that impacts blood sugar levels.
- Eat the feast slowly, savoring every bite by letting your taste buds truly taste all the flavors. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that your stomach is officially “comfortable” and that you should stop eating, so slowing down can help you avoid overeating. You can always take a “seconds” plate home for a super special lunch the next day.
- Enjoy low- or zero-calorie beverages throughout the holiday season. There are so many options to choose from now, including assorted unsweetened hot or cold tea, flavored mineral or seltzer water, and a variety of diet sodas. Make them festive by enjoying them with a wedge of lemon or lime.
- Make simple switches in your favorite recipes to reduce the carbohydrates and/or raise the fiber. Switch to whole grains when possible (like using brown rice instead of white or 100% whole wheat bread in your stuffing instead of white) and add extra non-starchy veggies like onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms to your side dishes. Consider cutting the sugar in half when you can (like in your cranberry sauce or sweet potato recipes) or choosing recipes that don’t call for sugar.
- Capitalize on the Thanksgiving foods that help keep your blood sugar levels steady. Balance any carbohydrate-containing foods in your meal with options such as turkey and other lean meats or fish, green salad, non-starchy vegetables, eggs, avocado and cheese.
- Holiday desserts are non-negotiable! So minimize the impact on your blood sugar levels by doing three things: serve yourself petite portions of the desserts you love, enjoy them mindfully by truly tasting every bite, and count the carbs contributed by the dessert into your meal carb budget.
- Now's a great time to crank your activity level up a notch! Staying active and exercising regularly reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes and helps those with diabetes improve their blood sugar and sensitivity to insulin.
- Keep in mind: If you have diabetes, measuring your blood sugar levels about one and a half to two hours after eating will tell you whether your blood sugar is within normal limits, high, or low. This is especially important during the holidays, when you might be eating and exercising a little differently.
ACME Markets has stores throughout Bergen including Allendale, Fort Lee, Bergenfield, Mahwah, Saddle Brook, Woodcliff Lake and Elmwood Park. Go to www.acmemarkets.com for more information.