By Linda Ly, M.D.

The holidays are coming: The time of year when people across the nation often throw calories, carbs, and sugar caution to the wind. This is not an option for those with diabetes, though. Doing so could have serious health consequences. The good news is that with some advance planning, you can enjoy holiday meals while maintaining control over what you choose to eat.

Be on the Lookout for Hidden Sugar

If you’re diabetic or cooking for a diabetic loved one this holiday season, you may be surprised to see where sugar and carbs creep up in otherwise innocent-seeming dishes. Take note of things like cranberry sauce, especially if it’s the canned variety, which can have as much as 21 grams of sugar per serving, carb-loaded side dishes like sweet potato casserole with brown sugar and marshmallows, and sugary desserts like cookies, pies and fruit cake. All of these can wreak havoc on blood-sugar levels.

Don’t Abandon Portion Control

Overindulging is a temptation to avoid, which isn’t easy considering others around you may be doing so. Say no to seconds, a heaping ladle of gravy, and unconscious eating that may lead you to absent-mindedly snag a cookie or pop a piece of candy in your mouth. All of these can add up quickly and raise your blood sugar. Keep carbohydrate-containing foods to about two fist-sized servings at a meal.

Fill your plate with colorful, fiber-rich, non-starch veggies, lean protein, and healthy carbohydrates such as grains, pasta, and corn. Drink water frequently to help feel fuller, stay hydrated, and eat less.

Test Yourself

Because you may end up eating more and indulging in foods you don’t normally have, it’s more important than ever to be diligent about keeping track of your blood sugar levels. Check your blood sugar throughout the day to ensure you’re within your target ranges. If you do get off track for a day, don’t beat yourself up, just get back on it as quickly as possible.


Linda Ly, M.D., is a Family Medicine physician who cares for patients at Meyerland Plaza Clinic. Her clinical interests include preventive medicine, hypertension, and diabetes.

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