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Diabetes & Thanksgiving: 4 Tips for a Healthier Holiday

The average American eats more than 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day, which is more than double what most people need. With 13% of Tennesseans struggling with diabetes, the holiday is a particularly challenging time to manage blood glucose levels and weight.

For most people, the biggest obstacles of the day can be broken down into two things:

  1. The constant focus on food, and
  2. The break in your usual routine.

Fortunately, there are easy things you can do if you decide you want to address these obstacles.

1. Pre-game the eating

Have a small high-protein, low-carb snack before you head to your family gathering so you don’t arrive hungry and make poor choices. Once you arrive, skip the salted nuts or cheese and crackers and fill up on raw veggies. Be sure to drink plenty of water, and limit your intake of sugary beverages like sweet tea or cider to one small glass (if any). If you want to enjoy a hot beverage outside with the family, opt for coffee or tea.

36,000 Tennesseans are diagnosed with diabetes annually. 161,000 Tennesseans have diabetes but don’t know it.

2. Bring in the green

If you’re worried about what your food options will be at your mother-in-law’s — you know she’s famous for her sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows — bring some of your own sides. Oven-roasted Brussels sprouts, green beans with toasted almonds or cauliflower “mashed potatoes” are all good options, and you might be surprised how many people in attendance appreciate the healthier options. You can find some diabetic-friendly Thanksgiving recipes here.

3. Go full turkey

Instead of layering your plate with calorie-rich, carbohydrate-dense sides like mashed potatoes and stuffing, don’t skimp on the main attraction. Turkey is not only protein-rich but also carb-free, so you don’t have to worry about it spiking your blood sugar. Just avoid drenching it in gravy.

4. Invite the crowd to move

While Thanksgiving tends to revolve around the food, it doesn’t have to. The point of the holiday is to spend time with the people you love, and that can be done in lots of ways. To counteract all of the sitting, suggest an after-dinner walk, play football or soccer outside or start an active game to move the emphasis away from eating and onto the fun of being together.

For more healthy Thanksgiving food swaps, click here.

Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.

WellTuned provides inspiration and practical advice for healthy living.
WellTuned does not offer medical advice. Any personal health questions should be addressed to your doctor.

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