Managing Your Diabetes During the Holidays


The holidays are difficult for most people in terms of maintaining a healthy weight. Cookies, candy, baked goods, fruit cake, and eggnog are just some of the delicious treats to which we’re exposed.

The six-week period from Thanksgiving to Christmas can lead to “significant weight gain” according to one study. But the 10 days after Christmas yield extra pounds, too.

Staying on track during the holidays is especially important for those with type 2 diabetes, as weight and the disease go hand-in-hand.

“The holidays are a challenging time for people because they’re inundated with a lot of high carbohydrate foods and with diabetes you really want to try and limit the number of refined carbohydrates you take in,” said
Dr. Amanda Powell, Director of the Medical Weight Loss Center at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center.

Sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and stuffing—all the really good Thanksgiving foods—all carry loads of carbs.  

“You don’t want to go into Thanksgiving with a free-for-all mentality because your sugars will become incredibly high,” Dr. Powell said.

She advises eating the one food you really want and forgo the rest. What Thanksgiving dish do you really enjoy and look forward to?

“Limit it to one of the starches plus the turkey plus the vegetables, and then maybe pick one dessert,” she said.

It’s challenging when there is a Thanksgiving buffet of desserts.  

“The reality is that when you have a little of everything you end up eating a lot more. My advice is to pick the one food you really like, have a small portion of it and then move on,” she said.

Liquid or solid, it’s a carb either way. So whether it be lemonade or a glass of wine, the body will interpret it the same way as it would a baked potato or piece of pie.  

Around 100 million Americans are living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to 2017 numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.

“Weight and diabetes are very closely linked,” Dr. Powell said.  “The great thing is that diabetes can be well controlled with a good diet.”

Losing 7 to 10 percent of your body weight can improve diabetes.

“Your blood sugars come down quite nicely,” Dr. Powell said. “You don’t have to lose a significant amount of weight to gain control.” 

For more information on eating during the holidays while managing your diabetes, speak with your health care provider.

*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.

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