Holiday Eating Tips for Diabetics

December 12, 2013 Updated: December 12, 2013


Managing your diabetes can be more challenging during the holidays, with tempting sweets that bombard the senses at parties and family meals.

Eating right and monitoring your symptoms are key, so take a deep breath and prepare yourself now for the challenges of healthy holiday eating. 

What to Eat 

You can’t always control what you eat as a guest but you can make sure that your diet at other meals is top-notch.

Eat lots of insoluble fiber (fiber that doesn’t dissolve in water) to stay regular. Consumption of fiber-rich foods—barley, carrots, oats, legumes, beans, onions, peas, and lentils—have been associated with improved blood glucose control, and are better for long-term health than soluble-fiber supplements such as guar, pectin, and locust bean gum.

Other good fiber-containing foods are wheat bran, whole-grain breads and cereals, and fruits like apples, blueberries, boysenberries, raspberries, and cranberries. All help control insulin levels, improve liver function, and maintain blood glucose levels. Eating 1 cup of any of these berries a day helps control diabetes.

Blood Sugar Regulators
There is a whole range of plants with hypoglycemic action. Among them are artichoke, barley, cabbage, carrot, lettuce, nettles, oats, peas, spinach, sweet potato, and turnips.

Note that red and orange foods like watermelon, carrots, cantaloupe are in the mid-high glycemic index range, so eat them with protein or avoid them altogether. 

Avoid white foods such as potatoes, white rice, white sugar, sweets, and sweet-processed cereal because these foods are high on the glycemic scale.

Apples can regulate blood sugar levels because they contain naturally occurring chemical compounds known as flavonoids, some of which have been proven to have antioxidant activity that inhibits the activity of free radicals in the body, or scavenges the free radicals. 

Water is essential in any healing process. Fresh, filtered water is the best. Drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses per day. Try not to drink liquids that contain caffeine or alcohol because coffee dehydrates you, and alcohol is rich in sugars.

Incorporate these wonderful herbs to enhance the flavor of your foods while helping regulate your blood sugar levels: bilberry, basil, chives, cinnamon, dill, fenugreek, garlic, oregano, parsley, rosemary, stevia, thyme, and ginseng (look for panax, Korean or American).

How to Eat 

The best health plan is one that helps you feel your best, so actively experiment with your diet, frequency, and size of meals, as well as with all aspects of lifestyle to lower the amount of insulin you need to take. This means taking a lot of responsibility for your own health—a goal you can achieve.

Extend your nutrients throughout the day with three main meals and three snacks.

Eat small portions or servings as opposed to one or two big meals. Smaller portions not only reduce blood glucose and insulin concentrations, but also guard against the development of hyperglycemia. 

Although it takes a little more work to eat right at this time of year, your good health is well worth the effort. Your health limitations can actually be a holiday blessing for your family because they can be the catalyst that gets your family on board with their own health, and you can learn together how to cook delicious and healthy holiday foods. 

Andrew Pacholyk, M.S., L.Ac., has been in the alternative health field for over 18 years. He is an expert in sports medicine, infertility and gynecology, pain management, and anti-aging therapies.