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Healthy Holiday Meal Planning

Healthy Holiday Meal Planning
By Edna Eby MS RD LD
Dietician, Diabetes Outreach
Boundary Community Hospital

It’s November and you are planning the annual holiday family dinner. Everyone loves Grandma’s famous southern sweet potato casserole and Aunt Louise’s Pumpkin Pie with plenty of whipped cream. But Uncle Bill and Cousin Ann are coming to dinner too. Bill has diabetes and Ann has heart disease. Your daughter Emily is trying to get everyone to eat healthier. What to do? A little planning goes a long way to make your family dinner a success.

Here are some tips to make the holidays healthier:

  • First set a definite time to serve the meal. A diabetic can plan ahead and adjust meal and medication times according to when the meal is to be served. A two-hour delay can cause problems; normal or routine meal times are the best choice.
  • Plan a variety of healthy choices. A fresh veggie tray is a good choice with a ranch, salsa or hummus dip. Ordinary foods without adding dressings or sauces are best.
  • Herbs and spices are a must! Get creative and remember, salt is a personal choice – less is better. Most recipes can be modified to lower the carbohydrate level. Cranberry gelatin salad can be made with sugar free gelatin, have guests add their own whip topping and bet how many will guess this salad is not only delicious but healthy as well! Prepare candied yams with a brown sugar substitute or serve two types of potatoes: candied yams and mashed potatoes. The amount of sugar can be reduced in most recipes, then add herbs and spices for a great taste.
  • Have a variety of beverage choices including ice water, sugar free punch or soda and coffee. Although not recommended for diabetics, alcohol is a personal choice. If a diabetic does elect to drink, make sure that food is available to prevent hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.
  • Desserts – Yikes!! Always a temptation. A diabetic diet controls all carbohydrates. Carbohydrates found in gooey desserts can raise blood sugars very fast and high. Offer low sugar desserts. A single crust pie or a custard without the crust are better choices than double crust pies. If the diabetic offers to bring something for the meal, have them bring the dessert.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. As of 2012 approximately 21.1 million Americans (9%) had diabetes and today, 1 in 3 people are undiagnosed.

Some diabetes signs or symptoms are:

  • Extreme thirst;
  • Frequent urination; and
  • Fatigue.

Diabetes does not discriminate; it can affect any age, sex or racial group. It can cause many complications or morbid conditions.
Remember that holiday meals are a time for family and traditions. Offer choices; it is up to the diabetic to make the right decision. If they want to eat a small piece of dessert, it is their choice. Just be sure that healthy options are available.
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The Boundary County Diabetes Education Support Group meets the second Wednesday of each month at 1:00 pm at the Panhandle Health Building Meeting Room in Bonners Ferry. Call Edna Eby RD, LD (208) 267-3141 ext 4235 for more information.

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