Getting a Jump on the Feast of Thanksgiving


The components that make up the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal in America speak less to a memorial of some mythical meeting between pilgrims and natives and more to a celebration of foods jacked up in carbohydrates and sugar.

For people with diabetes, this presents an obvious problem.

Curiously, most reliable sources on this topic function under the assumption that the reader is also the Thanksgiving cook. But this is far-fetched; speaking strictly from the perspective of odds, there are bound to be far more people with diabetes eating food prepared by others than food they themselves prepared.

You may have no control over what is served at Thanksgiving, but you have control over what you choose to eat. To that end, some tips to avoid problems as you give thanks:

BREAKFAST: Have it or skip it? Have it. Include good sources of fiber to keep you feeling more full than you otherwise might come the Thanksgiving meal. Don't save up your carb count for a huge Thanksgiving meal.

BEVERAGE: Soda or wine? Wine. Wine or water? Water. Don't "drink your carbs."

BREADS & ROLLS: Yes or no? No. As they put it over at dLife, why bother wasting carbs and calories on something guaranteed to spike your blood sugar, especially when it's food you can find any day of the year.

CRANBERRY SAUCE: Fresh or canned? Fresh. Canned cranberry sauce is loaded with added sugar, and for good reason: cranberries don't actually taste all that good. Or, like John Oliver put it, cranberries taste like cherries who hate you.

TURKEY: White meat or dark meat? White, no skin. It's more lean than the dark meat.

DESSERT: Pecan pie or pumpkin pie? Pumpkin. All portions being equal, pecan pie carries an added 100-200 calories more than pumpkin pie, according to Karen Collins of the American Insitute for Cancer Research.

LEFTOVERS: Take 'em or leave 'em? Leave 'em … unless you can slip away with some of the white meat: 0 grams in carbs, plenty of protein and saturated fat.

TRYPTOPHAN-INSPIRED NAP:Yes or no? Up to you. But take a walk around the block first, get a little exercise to help lower your blood sugar. Then find the recliner.

Finally, some good advice from Karen Collins about how to avoid overeating on holidays:

Don’t let other people derail your efforts to take care of your health. Nevertheless, try to be sensitive when you are dealing with people for whom you know refusing food feels like you are refusing their love.


- Joslin Diabetes Center
- American Diabetes Association
- Health at The New York Times
- Health at US News & World Report
- dLife: Carving Carbs at Thanksgiving


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