Ah, Thanksgiving! Mashed potatoes, stuffing, candied yams, rolls, cornbread and lots and lots of pie… Thanksgiving wins as the holiday with the most carbohydrates! That might not sound like bad news unless you are diabetic. Is it a coincidence that November is American Diabetes Awareness Month? According to the Caloric Control Council, the average American will consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day.
Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body is not able to process sugar (or glucose) because of a deficiency of insulin. A large percentage of Thanksgiving calories come from carbohydrates, which are converted to glucose. Increased blood glucose levels can, over time, lead to serious complications such as heart disease, vascular damage, vision problems, kidney failure and nerve damage.
As delicious as our traditional Thanksgiving dishes taste, most of the popular menu items are a no-no for diabetics. Instead of just passing those heaping bowls of mashed potatoes and sage dressing without putting any on your plate, here are some diabetic-friendly substitutes for those traditional Thanksgiving treats:
- Substitute mashed potatoes with… whipped cauliflower. Cauliflower can have a similar texture to mashed potatoes. Boil or steam cauliflower until tender and put into the food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, and voila! You have a mashed potato substitute.
- Substitute bread in your stuffing with… barley. This high-fiber, whole grain alternative is much healthier than white or even wheat bread. It also will not make you feel as tired after the meal so you can stay awake for football!
- Substitute brown sugar and maple syrup in your sweet potatoes with… ginger and cinnamon. Cinnamon adds sweetness, and ginger gives a bright pizzazz that makes plain brown sugar seem boring. This duo of flavors will remind you of pumpkin pie spice as well because both spices are included in pumpkin pie. Note: sweet potatoes are a better alternative to white potatoes because they metabolize slower and create a more gradual change in blood sugar (Source: EmpowHer).
- Substitute sugar in apple or pumpkin pie with… a sugar replacement. Your doctor may have specific recommendations for sugar substitutes, so talk to your doctor about what sweetener is safest for you. Some sweeteners are not suitable for baking, so you may have to experiment a little bit. Grocery stores are now offering many sugar-free pies and pastries in the bakery section so if your sugar-free pumpkin pie experiment turns out to be a bust, you can always take a last-minute trip to the corner store for a semi-fresh baked pie that is also diabetic-friendly! (Source: Live Strong).
As difficult as it may be to make the correct food choices this Thanksgiving, remember that your goal is controlling your diabetes. Not managing your blood sugar has much more serious consequences than not having that corn pudding or extra yeast roll. You are taking care of your body and your vision, and you will never regret that decision!