It’s that time of year again. Your calendar is filling up — family gatherings, work parties, social outings with friends. And while all of these things can be wonderful and fun. They all have one thing in common: FOOD.
For most people, this is part of the fun. We all have those cherished foods from childhood that we look forward to each time the holiday season rolls around. But if your days of carefree holiday eating are over because you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, this time of year can lose a bit of its magic.
Missing out on important events like Thanksgiving will likely make you feel deprived. And that’s the last thing I want for any of my clients. Skipping a holiday event because you’re worried about your prediabetes comes dangerously close to letting life pass you by.
It’s important to still find ways to enjoy events where food is the focus. But that doesn’t mean you throw caution to the wind and eat whatever you want. There is a way to find balance and be smart about enjoying your holiday gatherings and favorite foods.
So this week, I’m sharing my best tips on how to offset a holiday indulgence. Now don’t get me wrong. These tips won’t do much for you if you’ve just polished off your third piece of pie. But if you make some good choices and use these Thanksgiving hacks, you can absolutely enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner without the consequences and regret.
Thanksgiving Dinner Tip #1: Save the Carbs for Last
Research shows that saving your carbohydrate-rich foods for later in your meal can keep your blood sugar from spiking. In one study, when the participants ate their carbs last, they had a post-meal blood sugar reading that was about half when they ate their carbs first, and about 40% lower than when they ate all meal components together (1).
This is great news! You can make a significant difference in how your meal affects your blood sugar by switching up the order in which you eat it. You don’t necessarily have to skip all your favorite high-carb foods. Just enjoy things like turkey and lower-carb green veggies first!
Thanksgiving Dinner Tip #2: Include Healthy Fats
The balance of macronutrients in your meal can make a big difference when it comes to blood sugar. And fat is a heavy hitter.
When you add fat to a meal, it slows the rate at which your stomach empties. This helps your body process the foods you’ve eaten more slowly, keeping your blood sugar from rising too quickly.
Do be careful about which fats you choose though. Not all fats are good for you. Vegetable and seed oils tend to be highly inflammatory and can cause more problems than they solve. I recommend you stick with foods like nuts, olives, avocado, full-fat dairy (if you tolerate it), and oils like extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil. It’s even okay to add some butter to those green beans!
Thanksgiving Dinner Tip #3: Add Some Insoluble Fiber
Including some insoluble fiber is another trick of the trade. Because your body is unable to absorb and break down this type of fiber, it doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar. And like fat, it can also slow down the rate that your body processes your food.
Insoluble fiber also helps with insulin sensitivity and keeping your bowel movements regular. You can find insoluble fiber in things like nuts, seeds, along with many fruit and vegetable skins.
Thanksgiving Dinner Tip #4: Take an After Dinner Walk
Sitting like a lump on the couch in a food coma after your Thanksgiving dinner isn’t going to do much for your health — or your mood. And studies show that walking after a meal (even for as little as 2 minutes) can have a positive effect on your after-dinner blood sugar (2).
Walking activates your muscles, causing them to use some of the glucose that may be flooding your blood after a decadent meal. You don’t have to jump up from the table and head outside immediately. But studies show that taking that walk within 60-90 minutes after eating will get you the best results.
Thanksgiving Dinner Tip #5: Include Some Apple Cider Vinegar
Although we don’t know definitively why apple cider vinegar (ACV) helps with blood sugar, we do know that it does. So if you’re planning on eating a carbohydrate-rich Thanksgiving dinner, adding in a little of this liquid gold may help keep your blood sugar in check.
Your best bet is to have some ACV before you begin your meal. Studies show that having it before you eat has a stronger effect than having it with the meal. So consider starting your meal with a salad that includes some ACV-based dressing. You can even stir a couple teaspoons of ACV into a glass of water and drink it before you begin your meal. If you’re going to go that route, I recommend using a straw so that the vinegar makes less contact with your tooth enamel.
Thanksgiving Dinner Tip #6: Check In With Your Practitioner
If you’re working with a nutritionist to improve your prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, I recommend checking in before and after the holiday. A good practitioner will have ideas to help you enjoy your meal without throwing your eating plan out the window. And if you ever feel shamed by your practitioner for your food choices, or are told that you have to avoid your holiday fun because of your specialized diet, it may be time to find someone new for your team.
Did you know that a steam sauna can improve blood sugar?
Yes, that’s right! And there are many other ways to improve blood sugar. Addressing prediabetes doesn’t have to be hard. Ready to improve your blood sugar without changing your diet? Sign up for my FREE mini course, 10 Ways to Improve Blood Sugar Without Changing Your Diet. It’s a free email course, and it’s a fast and easy way to learn 10 impactful tips to begin balancing your blood sugar TODAY! Learn more