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How to navigate the Thanksgiving holiday

Published November 24. 2010 05:00PM

The American Diabetes Association offers these tips to help those with diabetes navigate the Thanksgiving holiday.

1. Focus on friends and family instead of food. Remember, the holidays are a time to slow down and catch up with your loved ones. Play games, volunteer, or spend time outdoors enjoying the winter weather together.

2. It's a party, but don't overdo it. Eat slowly, and really enjoy the foods that you may only have once a year. If the meal will be served near your usual meal time, try to eat the same amount of carbohydrates that you normally would for a meal. If you plan to have a portion of dessert, cut back on another carbohydrate food during the main course. Make sure your portions are reasonable and resist going back for second helpings.

3. Eat before you eat. Don't skip meals or snacks earlier in the day to "save" calories and carbs for the large holiday feast later on. If you skip meals, it will be harder to keep your blood glucose in control. Also, if you arrive somewhere hungry, you will be more likely to overeat.

4. Bring what you like. Don't spend time worrying about what will be served. Offer to bring your favorite diabetes-friendly dish. It could be a low-sugar or low-fat version of a recipe. If you count carbs, check your recipe's nutrition facts so you know how big a serving is and how many carbs it has.

5. Drink in moderation. If you drink alcohol, remember to eat something beforehand to prevent low blood glucose levels later. Whether it's a glass of eggnog or red wine, holiday drinks can add a significant amount of calories to your holiday intake. Keep it to no more than one drink for women and two drinks for men.

6. Stay active. One reason that we have problems managing diabetes and weight during the holidays is our lack of physical activity. Sure, the holidays are busy, but plan time into each day for exercise and don't break your routine. Make the holidays an active time!

• Off from work or school? Use this extra time to do some physical activity.

• Train for and participate in a local holiday run or walk (like a turkey trot or reindeer run).

• Start a game of pick-up football or play other games in the yard.

• Bundle up and go for a walk with your loved ones after eating a holiday dinner.

• Offer to help clean up after a meal instead of sitting in front of leftover food. This will help you avoid snacking on it and get you moving around.

7. If you overindulge, get back on track. If you eat more carbs or food than you planned for, don't think you have failed. Stop eating for the night and focus on spending the rest of your time with the people around you. Include extra exercise, monitor your blood glucose levels, and get back on track with your usual eating habits the next day.

Source: American Diabetes Association

For luscious diabetes-friendly Thanksgiving recipes, including Rustic Mashed Potatoes with Olive Oil and Garlic, Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Pineapple and Spices, Sage Stuffing, and Holiday Pumpkin Pie with Maple Ginger Crust, go to

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