8 Tips for Thanksgiving with Gestational Diabetes

We may call it Turkey Day, but in truth, Thanksgiving is a celebration of all things carbohydrate.

And if you, like me, are battling gestational diabetes, that’s not a good thing.

I believe that the key to meeting my dietary and blood glucose goals is in planning, though, so the following are a few of my plans (unproven tips-in-advance?) for making it through the day without a major binge or a hunger-induced blowup:

1. Snack on veggies. I’m in charge of the fruit and veggie trays for the family festivities. That gives me a chance to embrace my inner-Pinterest-lover with creative turkey-shaped creations while also ensuring that the appetizer table isn’t all chips and crackers.

2. Load up on protein. Turkey is the centerpiece of the table, and it will be the centerpiece of my plate. Though it’s not my typical style to put meat center-plate, it is during the gestational diabetes adventure. So bring on the tryptophan.

3. Keep portions small. I’m not eschewing all the carbs on the table, but instead of serving-spoonfuls of each, I plan to limit myself to a bite or two of the worst carb offenders: stuffing, cranberry sauce, jello fruit salads and the like.

4. Skip or split the roll. No jam. I’ll ask grandma to make me a whole batch of her delicious uber-white-bread rolls four months from now, but I will not over-do it today.

5. Substitute when possible. Real mashed potatoes are, of course, delicious … and they help fill the plate (especially if everything else comes in bite-sized servings). But they are basically sugar. That’s why I volunteered to bring mashed cauliflower instead. It’s supposed to have all the taste with only a fraction of the carbs!

6. Treat yourself. There’s no giant slice of pumpkin pie topped with ice cream in my future, but there’s no reason I can’t taste a little dessert. A bite or two of a couple of favorite offerings, well after dinner (see next tip) won’t hurt.

7. Wait it out. One of the keys in managing gestational diabetes is spreading out your food over the course of a day. So I’ll eat a modest Thanksgiving dinner at 2 p.m. with the family, hold out a couple hours for my bite or two of dessert, then wait a bit longer and grab some leftovers for dinner. I’ll still get all the yumminess of the holiday — but I bet I’ll feel better than my relatives who stuff themselves.

8. Be reasonable. The danger in gestational diabetes comes in extreme sugar spikes or prolonged high blood sugar — not in rare single incidents. Even the nurse at my doctor’s office condoned my indulgence in a small slice of cake on my son’s birthday. Try to keep your numbers reasonable (I hit the 140s instead of 120 at the birthday party), but don’t panic if they spike a little high one time. So long as you have the willpower to return to a proper schedule on Friday, it will be OK.

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