Diabetes-Friendly Guide To Holiday Dinners and Parties

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Holiday food for diabetics

Food plays a major role in holiday parties, and having diabetes shouldn’t mean that you can’t participate in the festivities.


Doctor Karin Hehenberger, the founder of Lyfebulb, an organization dedicated to helping individuals with chronic conditions invest in themselves and achieve their optimal lifestyle, has easy tips to help those with diabetes enjoy favorite dishes during holiday gatherings. Dr. Hehenberger recommends that with a little preparation, anyone managing blood glucose levels can enjoy their favorite dishes.

“Preparation is the most important step in managing diabetes during the holidays,” said Dr. Hehenberger. “You don't have to give up all of your holiday favorites if you make healthy choices and limit portion sizes.

Dr. Hehenberger offers simple ways enjoy a few traditional favorites while sticking with a healthy meal:

  • Prepare Before You Leave

Ask what food will be served, so you can see how it fits into your meal plan. Bring a healthy dish to add to the table. Eating a healthy snack before you arrive helps to avoid overeating at the party.

  • Appetizers

Many holiday parties start with appetizers and passed hors d ‘hovers. Choose crudité, fresh fruits, or chilled shellfish, and pass on puff pastry style appetizers, which can cause sugar spikes.

  • Side Dishes


Load the plate with vegetables. Make sure to avoid casseroles or other side dishes that have heavy creams, sauces or butter. Fresh cranberries, baked apples, and pears are all good options, but steer clear of any canned fruits are fruit sauces as they can be very high in sugar.

  • The Main Course

Watch out for honey glazed hams, turkey swimming in gravy, or roast tenderloin in cream sauces, all of which can be high in sugar and fat. Instead, choose skinless turkey without gravy, or other lean meats with natural juices.

  • Dessert

Make smart choices when it comes to dessert, moderation goes a long way. Choosing pumpkin pie over pecan pie, using low-fat whipped cream or bringing a dessert you’ve made with an artificial sweetener can make a big difference.

  • · Party Beverages

Celebrate with a glass or two of wine, but make sure to drink them with dinner rather than starting early. Diluting white wine with seltzer is an easy trick to make the glasses last long. Watch out for drinks made with fruit juice or cream—even the nonalcoholic – and limit to just one.

Written and provided by Dr. Karin Hehenberge