For many diabetics, counting carbs is the easiest way to manage their blood sugar. The body breaks carbs into sugar, which enters the bloodstream and can make blood sugar levels spike, so limiting carbs to the right amount is important. While the correct amount varies from person to person, the general rule is that diabetics should try to get no more than half of their daily calories from carbs. Of course, when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner and its abundance of potatoes, stuffing, and sweets, limiting carbs can be a challenge! Here are some suggestions on what to serve to make sure you have a diabetes-friendly Thanksgiving.
Types of Carbs
Not all carbs have the same effect on blood sugar. Here are the three types of carbs:
- Fiber: Found in plant foods like veggies and fruit, fiber has numerous health benefits and doesn’t raise blood sugar.
- Starches: This includes veggies like peas, corn, potatoes, and grains like wheat. While starchy carbs can spike blood sugar and lead to weight gain, these complex carbs also offer various health benefits so should be consumed in moderation.
- Sugar: This includes the added sugar in packaged foods and condiments, along with refined sugar in baked goods, and natural sugar in milk and fruit. Some types of fruit have very low amounts of sugar and the benefits may outweigh the negatives, such as with vitamin- and fiber-rich fruit, so consumption is up to the individual and what works best for them.
What Diabetics Can Eat at Thanksgiving
Sticking with a low-carb, high protein meal is best for diabetics, as protein digests slowly so it won’t create as big of a change in blood sugar level as other foods. As far as veggies, go for the non-starchy kind like carrots, Brussels sprouts, or green beans. When choosing carbs, pick ones that also have fiber, like quinoa and sweet potatoes. Here are some other ideas for diabetic-friendly Thanksgiving dishes.
- Turkey – As long as the turkey is not fried or basted in a lot of butter, this is a relatively healthy option for diabetes since it’s high-protein and carb-free.
- Sweet potatoes – While sweet potatoes are carbs, they don’t spike blood sugar as quickly as white potatoes. Just don’t top them with marshmallows!
- Green bean casserole – Green beans cooked in olive oil is a healthy side for everyone
- Quinoa with cranberries – Quinoa is a carb with high amounts of protein. Serve it mixed with diced cranberries and apples for a delicious side dish.
- Cauliflower mash – Substitute white potatoes for cauliflower, add olive oil instead of butter, and you’ll have a yummy, low-carb, high-fiber take on mashed potatoes.
- Whole wheat stuffing – Instead of using white bread in the stuffing, use whole wheat, as the fiber in whole wheat slows the digestion process. Once it’s combined with celery, spices, and herbs, no one will miss the white flour version!
- Apple crumble – Slice and bake apples with cinnamon and coconut sugar, which doesn’t affect blood sugar the same way as white refined sugar does. Top with oats and chopped nuts for a little crunch!
No matter what is on the table, enjoy the special dishes in moderation, and remember to listen to your body!