Healthy Thanksgiving tips for diabetics

Recipe changes, portion control key to healthy holiday meals

SAN ANTONIO – The holiday season is just about here, and that can mean family gatherings and parties with a lot of unhealthy foods.

During this time of year, people often put on some weight, but for diabetics, it can be even more challenging to keep their disease under control.

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“I always tell my patients to enjoy the holidays, but of course, you want to enjoy a healthy meal. And part of that is cooking healthier options,” said Clarissa Rivera, dietitian at the Texas Diabetes Institute.

Tip 1

One of the biggest challenges is portion control. Rivera said that a healthy plate of food should be divided into four quarters: one for protein (turkey or ham), one for starches (dressing or mashed potatoes) and two — or half the plate — for vegetables.

“You want to plan out your plate so there are more vegetables that you are filling up on,” Rivera said.

Eating a small breakfast in the morning will also help with not overindulging when its meal time, she said.

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Tip 2

You don’t have to skip out on many of your favorite foods. All you have to do is alter the recipes. For example, using less sugar, or a sugar substitute, can cut calories by as much as half. Another option is choosing white instead of dark meat.

There are even recipes to make a healthy dessert.  (Crustless Pumpkin Pie Recipe Below)

“Keep it healthier. Keep it lighter. And it’s still possible to have a healthier Thanksgiving,” Rivera said.

Tip 3

Even though it’s the holidays, it’s still important to remain active. Nobody wants to work out on Thanksgiving Day, but instead of taking a nap after a meal, Rivera encourages people to go for a walk.

Rivera said even a 15-minute walk can lower your blood sugar.

All that adds up to small, simple changes that will keep blood sugars down and allow everyone to have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

The Texas Diabetes Institute will be having a cooking class from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m on Dec. 9. The institute is located at 701 S. Zarzamora. For more information on the class, click here.

RECIPE: Crustless Pumkin Pie

Preparation time: 60 minutes
Number of servings: 8
Non-stick cooking spray with flour
1 (15 ounce) can 100 percent Pure Pumpkin
1 (12 ounce) can fat-free evaporated skim milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt

1) Spray bottom of baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
2) Mix together pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Pour into dish.
3) Bake at 325 for 55 minutes, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.
4) Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
Nutrition Information:
Calories: 125
Carbohydrate: 23 grams
Fiber: 2 gram
Total fat: 1.5 grams
Saturated fat: 0 grams
Sodium: 230 milligrams

Source: Clarissa Rivera, RD, LD, CDE, Dietitian Diabetes Educator

About the Author:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter.