Diabetes Thanksgiving do’s and don’ts for a healthy holiday

If you have Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes, Thanksgiving can present a challenge. Learn tips to make a healthy and happy diabetic Thanksgiving possible!

Diabetes and Thanksgiving can be a difficult time for children with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes as all the holiday’s rich foods can cause anxiety and present a challenges. What can children and families do to have a happy, healthy diabetic Thanksgiving?

Whitney A. Cessna, M.S., RDN, LDN, CDE, registered dietitian nutritionist, diabetes educator and certified food manager with Norton Children’s Endocrinology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, has some tips to help manage Thanksgiving with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

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Diabetes Thanksgiving Do’s:

  • Need help? Ask. If it’s the first Thanksgiving since your child’s diagnosis and/or you’re feeling anxious about what to do for your holiday celebration, ask for help. Talk with your child’s registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator or endocrinologist to get answers to any questions you may have about how to enjoy the holiday.
  • If you’re not preparing the meal, talk with your host about the menu. You also can see if the host can provide you with recipes so you can determine proper serving sizes and carb counts.
  • Remember, it’s one meal out of 1,095 in a year. There is no particular food your child has to avoid. It’s all about moderation –– which is a good practice for all of us, for Thanksgiving and every day of the year.
  • Check blood sugar. Two hours before the meal, have your child check their blood sugar. Check their blood sugar two hours after the meal, as well.
  • Plate with your child’s plan in mind. Start filling a plate with turkey, salad and non-starchy veggies first. Then, add foods that may be higher in carbs, such as potatoes, fruit or dessert, and that meet the plan as outlined by your child’s dietitian.
  • Depending on what your child eats, adjust insulin to cover the meal.
  • Be prepared. Just in case the meal is delayed or your child has a low blood sugar reading, make sure to have glucose tablets or juice boxes handy.

Diabetes Thanksgiving Don’ts:

  • Don’t forget to keep your schedule. With the excitement of the day, it may be easy to lose track of time. Make sure that you are testing blood sugar and giving insulin as you would any other day ahead of the meal.
  • Don’t skip meals. Depending on how your family and friends celebrate, the holiday meal could be a lunchtime affair or an early evening dinner. Don’t skip meals in anticipation of the holiday meal –– stick to your schedule despite the festive mood.
  • Don’t throw caution to the wind. There is certainly no food your child should avoid, but encourage them to make good decisions. If there are three desserts, have them choose which they would like to try, or have small servings rather than full-sized servings of all three.

Please consult your child’s dietitian, diabetes educator or endocrinologist for treatment of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, including dietary suggestions, medications and blood glucose monitoring.


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