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  • Writer's pictureJulie Hagan

Guilt Free Holiday Eating

If You Have Diabetes...Eat Delicious Holiday Food Without Sacrificing Your Blood Glucose Control

It is December 2020 and the holidays in the United States have begun, first with Halloween, then Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. No matter the month though, there are always occasions in our lives that are marked by gathering with people we care about, around delicious and often sweet or high carbohydrate foods. There are birthdays, baby showers, weddings, graduations, retirement parties, religious occasions and more. Life is full of occasions to gather. Despite the global pandemic, we are still gathering, even if it is often virtually. To some extent we still prepare the foods we associate with these occasions.

As a person with type 2 diabetes, the opportunities to gather can be difficult. The high carbohydrate foods can wreck havoc on your diabetes and blood glucose control.

There is abundant information about what you should NOT to manage your diabetes. When you talk with someone who has diabetes, read articles on the internet or join social media conversations about diabetes, it can seem like the messages are mainly about what you should NOT eat. For example, “don’t eat sugar, bread, rice, potatoes, fruit, carbohydrates, sweets and desserts,

These are called Negative Messages and they are about what you should NOT do. People with diabetes DO have trouble using carbohydrates, the result is a blood glucose that is above normal. You may find yourself watching everything you eat, resisting foods you love and feeling particularly deprived during holiday and special occasions. Or you may decide to throw caution to the wind and eat what you want, and then have high blood glucose values as a result. What do you do?

If you have diabetes you can be left feeling like there is nothing you CAN eat. I have a proposal, put some effort into Positive Messages about the foods you CAN eat that will not sabotage your blood glucose control. Eat more delicious foods that are GOOD FOR YOU and YOUR DIABETES. The clients I work with in my private practice are often afraid that their friends and family will not like the healthier, lower carbohydrate foods they make, bring to parties, and special occasions. I have seen people take weeks to work up to taking a vegetable tray or vegetables and hummus to a football party and then be surprised that people eat them and are often happy to have lighter foods when otherwise the choices are mostly heavier, sweeter foods. Many people in the United States are struggling with their weight, blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes and may be happy to have healthier options from which to choose.

Now, during this holiday season, I am leaving the DON’Ts to others and focusing on the DO’s. Do this, try this, how about this....


  • Learn what foods are naturally low in carbohydrate (nuts, fats, proteins, non starchy vegetables are examples)

  • Plan ahead & stock up on foods that won’t raise your blood glucose much. Generally foods with less than 10 grams of carbohydrate per serving

  • Learn to prepare lower carbohydrate foods in ways that make them delicious so that you will enjoy eating them

  • Try new recipes

  • Share low carbohydrate foods and dishes with your friends and family

  • Put low carbohydrate foods where they call your name and put the higher carb foods where they are not too obvious and not easy to get to. For example, put lower carbohydrate foods in the front of your fridge, on your counter, or in the front of your pantry.

  • Take lower carbohydrate foods to parties, dinners and other gatherings.

  • Do not be ashamed of your lower carbohydrate dishes. Delicious lower carbohydrate and healthy food is “in” and appreciated by others. One in 10 people in the United States has diabetes, so you may be supporting friends and family with diabetes without knowing it. In addition, many people have weight concerns, high blood pressure and high cholesterol and may also appreciate the healthier food you bring to an event.

  • Ask for support from your family and friends. Often friends and family are happy to support you but they may not know how.

Eating more foods that are lower in carbohydrates can make it easier to pass up or eat smaller portions of the high carbohydrates foods that can raise your blood sugar too much. They can help you have something to eat so that you can enjoy the special occasions without sacrificing your blood sugar control

For a list of foods that are low in carbohydrates, click HERE. This means that there are less than 10 grams of carbohydrates in one serving. Some of these foods are high in sodium (salt) and unhealthy fats (saturated fat). We are talking about special occasions here so I don’t want to leave those less healthy foods off. I have put an asterisk * by them so you’ll know. Information on sodium and heart heart is a topic for another time.

I am a dietitian and that means that I can talk about food endlessly. What I have learned in my 40 years as a dietitian is that finding recipes you love will help you eat some foods particularly vegetables more of them. Plain canned or frozen green beans, carrots or an uninspired salad is not going to make you feel like those low carbohydrate, non-starchy vegetables are delicious. Crack open those cook books, or laptops and start scouting for some recipes to try at your next occasion. This one is super easy... delicious and nutritious too.

Spiced Nuts

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F

  2. Combine any nuts or seeds that you like such as pecans, cashews, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

  3. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoon olive oil

  4. Bake until golden 10 minutes.

  5. Toss lightly with spices you like for example celery salt, cumin, paprika, cayenne, chili power or for a sweeter flavor, cloves, nutmeg or cinnamon

  6. Serve in your favorite attractive bowl for a special occasion

Join me for my next webinar Eat for Type 2 Diabetes and turn Your diabetes Into the reason you feel great Learn how to eat for type 2 diabetes and start lowering your blood sugar. Go from feeling confused and frustrated to knowing when, what and how much to eat, all without giving up the foods and life you love. It is time to say goodbye to extreme diets, feelings of confusion, guilt and fear and get results you and your doctor can get excited about. And get your free Eating for Type 2 Diabetes Getting Started Guide.

To register click HERE

Julianne Hagan is a registered dietitian nutritionist, diabetes educator, and registered nurse. She has a private practice in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and is the creator of How to Eat for Type 2 Diabetes, an online program .

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