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These tweaks make your holiday meal diabetic-friendly and healthier for the whole family.

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Holiday meals, like those during Thanksgiving or Christmas, can be difficult to get through if you have diabetes. The carb-loaded side dishes alone are enough to wreak havoc on blood sugar levels. Add a slice of pie or a festive drink and it becomes very challenging to enjoy your meal while still managing your disease.

The good news is that it only takes a few tweaks to your menu to create a healthier meal for everyone at the table, whether or not you have diabetes. You can still include some of your favorite standbys but by filling your plate with colorful fiber-rich veggies and reducing the amount of starchy carbs, you’ll be able to enjoy your holiday favorites in a healthier way.

“Holidays and other special occasions can be very difficult times for us to eat healthy (especially here in Louisiana). During the holidays, remember to keep your carbohydrate portions sensible, eat slowly, and take your time enjoying your food. Just because it is a holiday doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow your meal plan and carbohydrate goals. So if you plan to have dessert, make sure the portion is small and cut back on the other carbs you have during the main course. Also, staying active during the holidays can help with your diabetes management. Try going for a walk after a meal or playing a family game such as football.”

Desiree D. Lafleur, RD, LDN, Nutritional and Diabetic Education

Here are some ideas for making your holiday meal more diabetic-friendly:


  • Make a pitcher of “cranberry soda” as an alternative to cider and other sweet drinks. Simply add 1 cup of 100% cranberry juice to 6 cups of seltzer. Add slices of fresh lemon and lime.

Hors d’oeuvres:

  • Put out a colorful platter of raw veggies. Serve with a dip of plain Greek yogurt seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. Add fresh herbs like dill or parsley.

Side dishes:

  • Instead of mashed potatoes, whip up a bowl of mashed cauliflower, celery root bulb, low fat milk, chicken broth and garlic.
  • Use butternut squash or pumpkin along with or as a replacement for sweet potatoes. These gourds offer all the taste of the season but with fewer carbs and calories.
  • Roast Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and onions in olive oil for a tasty seasonal side dish. Sprinkle with goat cheese.


  • Fill a bowl with mixed fresh berries. They’re not only low-calorie and loaded with fiber, but they look pretty on the table and can satisfy a sweet tooth.
  • Offer bite-size desserts to help control portions. This way you can still take a bite or two of your favorite holiday dessert without going overboard. Mini muffin tins are a great way to bake your favorite recipe in smaller portion sizes.

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Date Last Reviewed: September 4, 2019

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RD

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