Happy Halloween everyone! I know, the candy's been littering the shelves of every grocery store in sight for weeks, but there are plenty of children, like those with diabetes, who can’t indulge in sugary treats even on October 31st.
Managing diabetic health can be challenging enough on it's own, even without the added temptations of endless amounts of free candy. Why not help kids (and their candy-stealing parents) out by finding new ways to celebrate this and other food-centric holidays?
How Can I Keep my Diabetes On Track for the Holidays?
As we all know, Halloween leads into Thanksgiving which leads into a month-long stretch of holiday parties, at home, at school and at the office. And of course, after all that partying, we're right at Christmas. Everyone's home, no one's in the mood to go to the gym, and by the time New Year's Eve rolls around, we're all off track. While frustrating and challenging for everyone, the eating marathon that begins with Halloween can truly derail your diabetic health.
1) Celebrate Connections
More than all those favorite recipes, try and keep your holiday focused on enjoying the company of friends and family. By making personal connections the main focus of your celebrations, food loses a lot of its power over you.
Instead of a four-hour Thanksgiving dinner, invite everyone outside for a family football game; take a Christmas-morning walk right after you open presents. Connecting with loved ones doesn’t have to happen over a heaping plate of food!
2) Help Out
As a diabetic, it’s important to tell hosts about special dietary needs so that they can accommodate you whenever possible. It’s also a great idea to bring a dish to any party you’re attending. That way, your host has less work to do and you’re sure to have one thing you know you can eat safely!
3) Plan out your cheats
Before any meal or cocktail hour, take a quick inventory of the available food. Pick two carbohydrates you know you can’t skip (make sure you consider dessert if you’ll be indulging), and try to stick to your typical carb count with those dishes (about 45-60 for adult men is a basic guideline, but every individual will be different.) While you may allow yourself a few extra grams of carbohydrates, keeping this category under control will make up for other dietary indulgences. And remember—alcohol has carbs, too!
4) Your Plate: Divided
Heap food on your plate, opting to cover half your plate with non-starchy, low carb vegetables. On one quarter of your plate, put a palm size piece of protein. On the final fourth of your plate, pick your carbohydrate servings of choice.
If you MUST try every dish, stick to a spoonful of the ones that don’t fall in line with your diabetic meal plan. And if you know you’ll be carb-loading at dinner time, reduce your intake earlier in the day to make up for it
5) Pre-game snacking
It’s important to choose a high protein, high fiber, low carb snack shortly before you head out to a holiday party. This will fill you up and curb your appetite before the food onslaught, while the fiber will help keep your blood sugar levels in check.
- Nuts (almonds or walnuts)
- Veggies dipped in hummus
- pickles (dill)
- sugar free popsicle
- ¼ cup of salsa
- vegetables (raw or cooked)
- ½ cup tomato or vegetable juice
- diet soft drinks
- sugar-free gelatin
- tea (unsweetened, or sweetened with sugar substitute)
- other sugar free drinks
- eggs (hardboiled, scrambled, sunny-side up, omelet)
- string cheese
- ½ cup of cottage cheese
- 2 tablespoons of hummus
- 15 olives (black or green)
- ¼ cup yogurt dip
- celery and 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons of almonds
- ½ cup peanuts in shell, or 2 tablespoons peanuts (no shell)
- ½ cup sunflower seeds in shell, or 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds (no shell)
Game Planing for a Diabetic Friendly Halloween
Now that you've got your action-plan for the holiday season that's upon us, it's time to get back to the day at hand: Halloween. To keep all kids, regardless of their dietary needs, included in seasonal celebrations, try giving out one of these 25 candy-free alternatives at your home this year:
- Glow sticks, necklaces, wands, glasses
- Pencil toppers
- Organic Juice Boxes
- Cool tattoo/character bandaids
- Mini crayon packs
- Mini Play-Doh
- Hair bows, barrettes, clips
- Mini slinkies
- Bouncy balls
- Mini nail polish
- Temporary tattoos (Halloween themed or popular characters)
- Spider rings
- Mini bottles of water
- Mini plastic army guys
- Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars
- Plastic vampire fangs
- Whistles/other annoying noise makers
- Mini rubber stamps
- Mini water squirt guns
- Fake jewelry (rings, necklaces, bracelets)