In a culture that centers squarely around food, it seems that many of our celebrations do the same. Our social calendars are full of happy hours, dinners, parties and other gatherings that will likely include food that isn’t necessarily friendly to diabetics
For those of us who closely monitor our carbohydrate intake, these events can be terribly challenging. The worry over what to eat and what to avoid can make these events feel more like work than enjoyment.
Most people expect to indulge at celebrations and other gatherings, but for diabetics, overeating can cause fatigue, nausea, headaches in the short-term, and it can contribute to long-term health effects like nerve damage.
The trick is to plan and be intentional about the way you eat prior to the event and the way you eat once you’re there.
So how do you avoid dangerous over-consumption?
- Before you do anything else, plan your meals. Because there is generally a large variety of food available at these kinds of celebrations, look over all the offerings before deciding what you’ll have. Be selective: instead of sampling everything on the table, limit yourself to those foods you really love and bypass the others. Serve yourself small portions of them instead of the larger portions you might be accustomed to.
- Avoid skipping meals to “save up” for a special meal. Skipping meals will cause you to feel hungry and will increase the odds that you will overeat. Additionally, if you skip meals, it will be harder to control your blood sugar levels. On the contrary, you should eat a healthy snack before the event so you won’t be overly hungry when you arrive.
- Because all carbs affect the blood sugar in the same way, you may choose to exchange foods accordingly. If, for example, hamburgers and cupcakes are on the menu, choose to skip the hamburger bun in exchange for the cupcake. Doing so will allow you to enjoy a serving of dessert without overdoing the carb intake.
- Eat raw, non-starchy vegetables prior to your meal so you’ll be less hungry when you sit down to eat. When you do sit down to dinner, eat slowly and enjoy your food. Your brain requires about 20 minutes in order to realize you’ve eaten and you’re full.
- Consider exercising before you go. Exercise lowers glucose levels and increases calorie burn for a brief time afterward. It may also diminish your appetite which will help prevent overeating.
- Use a smaller plate. Begin filling your plate with healthy options and save the unhealthy options for last, when there is less room on your plate.
- Go easy on the alcohol. Beer and wine have higher carb content than hard liquor, and they will raise the blood sugar more quickly. Gin, rum, whiskey and vodka are carb-free; mixed with diet soda or diet tonic water, they make the best option. Avoid liqueurs at all cost.
- If you are invited to someone else’s dinner, ask if you can bring a dish that is a healthy option to help keep yourself, and possibly others, on track. Better yet, find a healthier version of a favorite that you can enjoy in place of the less-healthy original.
If you are invited to a celebration, bring along one of the following desserts to share with others who may also be trying to monitor carb intake. The following desserts will satisfy your sweet tooth without wrecking your healthy eating plan. Each recipe has 25 grams of carbohydrates or less and relies primarily on ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.
Walnut Keto Fudge (2 grams)
Chocolate Coconut Haystacks (2 grams)
Low Carb Maple Bacon No Bake Cheesecake (3 grams)
Apple Crisp (25 grams)
Better Choice Southern Banana Pudding (23 grams)
Tangy Lemon Cheesecake Bars (12 grams)
Pear Crisp (25 grams)
Greek Yogurt Bark (0 grams)
Cinnamon Pecan Monkey Bread (24 grams)
Peanut Butter Cookies (9 grams)
Mocha Meringue Kisses (3 grams)
Chocolate Chip Cannolis (9 grams)
Gingerbread Cookies (12 grams)
No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars (12 grams)
Buttermilk Pralines (11 grams)
Advanced planning will allow you to enjoy a stress-free celebration without completely abandoning your healthy eating plan. By planning your meals — as well as your splurges — and substituting healthy versions of less-healthy favorites, you can control your food intake, as well as your blood sugar.
When food doesn’t demand all of your attention, you can focus on important things like family and friends. Enjoy!
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