Newswise — For people with diabetes, the keys to enjoying a safe and healthy Thanksgiving dinner are pre-planning and moderation, says Dr. Vanessa Arguello, health sciences clinical instructor in the UCLA Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

In addition, diabetics should make sure they are taking their medications, monitoring their blood sugar levels and staying active to improve their glucose metabolism, Arguello says.

Here are some other suggestions for a healthy Thanksgiving: 

  • Rather than one large Thanksgiving meal, have one moderate meal with a maximum of 60 grams of carbohydrates for females and 75 grams for males. Follow that with a small snack or dessert containing no more than 30 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Use the “plate method”: Fill half the plate with non-starchy vegetables, one-quarter with lean meats, and the remaining quarter with starches and grains. 
  • On average, people gain one or two pounds during the holidays. It’s a good idea for many people with diabetes to try to lose a couple pounds prior to the holidays so that their weight does not go up during the holiday season. 
  • To start the day, get some cardiovascular exercise and strength training in the morning to improve glucose metabolism for the rest of the day. Also, get up and move every 30 minutes during the meal to boost insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.
  • Be careful when mixing alcohol with medications that cause low blood sugar. This is because alcohol interferes with the liver’s protective mechanism to increase blood sugars when they are low;  this effect continues up to 12 hours after the last drink

Thanksgiving hosts can also help by providing low-calorie food and drink options. Include on your holiday menu lean meats, non-starchy vegetable side dishes, and sugar-free desserts and drinks; also, serve the turkey and salad dressings on the side. Once everyone is finished eating, clear the table to prevent the temptation to keep snacking. 

“Above all else, the most important thing that people who are hosting Thanksgiving dinners can provide for their guests who have diabetes is a supportive environment,” Arguello says. “Don’t pressure your guests into eating more than they desire or sampling all your delicious plates.”  

Dr. Arguello is available to comment on these tips and other diabetes-related questions.

Contact; Enrique Rivero 310.267.7120  [email protected]