Don't Let Diabetes Ruin Your Holiday Celebrations

Individuals with diabetes still can enjoy festive holiday fare, while maintaining good nutrition. It just takes a little extra planning, awareness and self-discipline.

By Donna Wagstaff, M.D.
Family Practice Specialist
St. Anthony’s Medical Center

Visions of sugarplums may be dancing in your head, but you know they never are going to cross your lips.  Ditto the creamy fudge and buttery cookies.  The holidays, with all of their turkey-and-dressing feasts, goodie-laden buffet tables and calorie-laden desserts, are starting to fill you with dread.  You have diabetes.

Diabetes hinders the way the body uses food for energy – either the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin or the body can’t use it effectively.  Since a meal plan for diabetes is carefully structured, careless snacking or missed meals can be potentially dangerous.

But don’t despair – you still can enjoy festive holiday fare, while maintaining good nutrition.  It just takes a little extra planning, awareness and – let’s face it – self-discipline.

If you are hosting the festivities, try using traditional recipes that have been modified to be low in sugar and fat.  If you are a guest, offer to bring a dish that works with your meal plan.  The American Diabetes Diabetes Association offers a variety of such recipes and meal plans on its website, www.diabetes.org.

Check out the buffet table and decide on one or two guilt-laden “must haves;” fill the rest of your plate with low-cal vegetables.  Avoid salty snacks, cheeses and dips, which can quickly add high-fat calories to your total.  Indulge in only small portions of “forbidden foods;” you can treat yourself on a small scale and not completely wreck your diabetic meal plan.

Remember –“food” does not equal “fun.”  The holidays are about connecting with the people you care about.  You can even round up the relatives for a brisk walk after dinner – painlessly combining socializing and blood-sugar control.  Just don’t get so caught up in the occasion that you forget to take your medications on time. 

Most importantly, don’t let the fact that you have diabetes take the “party” out of your holiday season.

For information about programs offered by St. Anthony’s Diabetes Education Department, call 314-525-4508 or visit www.talk-diabetes.org, a website created by the diabetes educators that contains current news on diabetes, information on classes and events and a recipe exchange. 


Dr. Donna Wagstaff, a family practitioner with a special interest in women’s health, is a member of St. Anthony’s Physician Organization.  She practices at Telegraph Road Family Medicine, 4438 Telegraph Road, 314-543-5996.   For a referral to any St. Anthony’s physician, call 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 1-800-554-9550.



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