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Surviving Holiday Treats on a Diabetic Diet

Jacky Gale | December 21st, 2012

For many people trying to stick to a healthy diabetic diet, the holidays present a challenge. Cookies, cakes, and pies abound, and it can be tricky to resist them if you’ve got a sweet tooth. Those who plan to travel for the holidays face additional challenges. It may be difficult to find diabetes-friendly meals and snacks while you’re away from home. Those who are travelling must also remember to bring sufficient diabetes medication or insulin, and to check their insulin levels regularly.

Patients with diabetes should work with their doctors to develop a healthy eating plan for the holidays. A physician-developed umbrella weight loss program, such as those offered by The Center for Medical Weight Loss, can help diabetics maintain a balanced diet while still indulging in small portions of sweets now and then.

Holiday eating plan for a diabetes diet

If you know what will be served at a holiday party, decide what you will eat ahead of time. Remember to limit your portion sizes and consider your total carbohydrate intake. If you wish to eat dessert, swap out some of your dinner carbohydrates. The American Diabetes Association recommends trading a dinner roll for a small serving of pie, for example. If you have trouble limiting your dessert portion sizes, share your dessert with someone else.

Be mindful of liquid calories. Sweet drinks are another traditional part of the holidays, but eggnog and hot chocolate can elevate your blood sugar levels, while alcoholic beverages can cause hypoglycemia. Instead, choose sparkling water flavored with a lemon wedge.

Make the focus of a holiday party spending time with your family and friends, not eating sweets. If there is a buffet table, move away from it and converse in another room so that you aren’t tempted to stray from your diet plan.

Good diabetic diet foods for the holidays

You might also consider bringing your own diabetes-friendly dessert to share at a holiday party. This way, you can control the ingredients of the dish and more effectively monitor your intake of carbohydrates and sugars. When you prepare your holiday treats, use healthier substitutions. Replace sugar with zero-calorie stevia, chocolate with carob, white flour with whole wheat, and butter with a butter substitute (or unsweetened applesauce). Use fresh fruits in your dessert, particularly berries, which have a lower glycemic index as compared to most other fruits. This means that the sugar in berries will not spike your blood sugar as much.

If you’re having trouble dieting during the holidays, consult a physician for help. The Center for Medical Weight Loss has over 450 locations nationwide, with a team of expert physicians who are adept at customizing diet plans to suit your unique needs. Reversing pre diabetes is a common goal for people who lose weight successfully on the program.

Managing weight is particularly critical for diabetics—don’t let the holidays steer you off course. At select Center locations, first-time customers can enjoy special introductory offers. Enter your zip code in the box to the right to find one near you.


  1. Managing Diabetes During the Holidays. http://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesmanagement/

  2. Helpful Hints for Healthy Holiday Eating. http://ndep.nih.gov/media/Healthy_Holiday_Eating.pdf