Read This Before You Eat Your Holiday Dinner

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This post was reviewed by our Director of Clinical Excellence and Oversight.

Some people think of Thanksgiving as the best meal of the year. Not only are family and friends gathered together in a spirit of friendship and gratitude, but the food itself is amazing: sweet potato casserole, buttery stuffing, rich gravy, and pies, ah, those pies!

While it can be difficult to avoid getting caught up in a cornucopia of calories, the good news is that you absolutely can enjoy holiday treats without gaining unwanted pounds and spiking your blood sugar.

Read this before you eat your holiday dinner

You’ve heard this before, right? But in this blog, we’re going to actually tell you how to do it. So, grab a cup of pumpkin spice coffee and read on!

holiday pie

While we all try to keep in mind the essence of Thanksgiving—gratitude, family, and connection—it can be hard to avoid getting caught up in a cornucopia of calories.

Plan Ahead

If you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner, or any holiday meal, you know the importance of planning ahead. You first have to settle on a menu, then go to three different markets for ingredients, and map out what dishes can be made ahead of time. The same is true if you’re going to be eating such a meal. You can show up and mindlessly fill your plate with everything that’s offered, or you can plan how you eat your meal in a thoughtful way that will leave you less stuffed, but more satisfied. Here are a few proven approaches.

Healthy Breakfast

Don’t starve ahead of the feast.

Eat a small breakfast (or lunch depending on what time you have your Thanksgiving meal) containing protein and fiber so you won’t arrive feeling starved.

two seniors exercising

Build up a calorie deficit.

Eat carefully early in the week and burn calories by adding activity, even an extra walk or two. On Thanksgiving Day, see if you can convince the family to join you in a game of touch football or backyard soccer. If a slow lap around the neighborhood is all you can get, it’s better than nothing!

thanksgiving buffet

Look before you leap.

If your meal is served buffet style, peek all the way down to the end to see the choices. Make a quick calculation of what you’d most like to taste and treat yourself to those items, leaving aside the rest. The same goes for a family-style meal. Look over the dishes and choose before digging in.

thanksgiving dinner plate

Think “sample” not “serving.”

It’s funny about Thanksgiving—the star of the show, that beautiful roasted turkey—is one of the healthiest things on the table, especially if you avoid the skin and go light on the gravy. The sides are typically the culprits, especially mashed potatoes, candied yams, sweet potato casserole, and stuffing, all high in carbs and calories. Instead of a full serving of those, take a taste, maybe a couple of tablespoons. Use the extra room on your plate to add larger quantities of fresh veggies and salads.

green bean side dish

Cover your bases.

If you’re concerned your host may not provide healthy sides, volunteer to bring fresh green beans or roasted squash. You won’t be the only guest who will appreciate them!

thanksgiving dinner talk

Take 10.

If you’re thinking about seconds, take a 10-minute break and enjoy some conversation before getting more. It takes some time for the food to hit your stomach and for your brain to get the “I’m full!” message. You may find you’re fine without that extra helping.

holiday eggnog

Watch the liquid calories.

All beverages are not created equal. A cup of eggnog can cost you 400 calories and more than 30 grams of carbohydrates. A glass of wine, with 130 calories and about 4 grams of carbs, is probably a better choice if you are drinking alcohol. Even better is water or bubbly water, which add no calories or carbs to your meal.

thanksgiving pie

The Case for Pie.

Thanksgiving is a day to dig in (within reason), not deny yourself a slice of Aunt Pamela’s pumpkin pie or Grandpa Herman’s delicious Dutch apple. Nutritionists explain that one indulgent meal will not cause permanent weight gain. Even if the scale registers a couple extra pounds on the Friday after Thanksgiving, returning to a healthy eating program should normalize things in a couple of days.

Of course, if you live with diabetes, you’ll need to monitor your glucose and adjust your insulin or other medications to make up for the extra food, according to your care plan.

There’s no question that the next couple of calendar pages include many red-letter days. But even if you enjoy holiday meals on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s eve, there are still plenty of opportunities in between to eat as your diabetic meal plan spells out.

thanksgiving drinks

A cup of eggnog can cost you 400 calories and more than 30 grams of carbohydrates. A glass of wine, with 130 calories and about 4 grams of carbs, is probably a better choice.

It’s Not Just about the Food

Finally, a few tips for ways to shift the holiday’s focus from food to festivity this season.

  • Instead of those chocolates she loves, gift a friend with some time with you. You might take her for a walk at the botanical garden or head over to an area of town known for great holiday decorations.
  • Change up this year’s ugly sweater party by offering light hors d’oeuvres (veggies and hummus and mini fruit kabobs) instead of Christmas cookies and punch while you laugh at how ridiculous everyone looks.
  • Forgo the holiday pizza lunch for your team at work. Instead, give everyone a gift card so they can make their own lunchtime purchase.
  • Kids home from college? Save the calories and expense of lunch at a restaurant. Instead, hit the gym together and follow up with soup and salad at home!
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HCD can deliver supplies for diabetes management (including CGM), ostomy care, advanced wound care, incontinence, and urological conditions. We handle the paperwork and deliver right to your door. Call us at 800-565-5644 for more information or to enroll.

Even if our celebrations have not quite returned to pre-Covid levels, the holidays are back and we’re all eager to make the season bright. Take steps today that will help you welcome the new year with your best foot forward— healthy, feeling good, with chronic conditions under control!

HCD’s team of knowledgeable elves can help you reach those goals by delivering your insurance-covered medical supplies, saving you the time and hassle of battling crowded stores. If you haven’t enrolled yet, we’ve made it quick and simple. Call us at 866-938-3906, or just enter your phone number on the bottom left of the screen and we’ll give you a call.

Happy, healthy holidays from everyone at Home Care Delivered!

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Disclaimer:

Unless otherwise noted, the recommendations in this document were obtained from the sources indicated. Be advised that information contained herein is intended to serve as a useful reference for informational purposes only. HCD cannot be held responsible for the continued accuracy of or for any errors or omissions in the information. All trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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