The holidays can be a challenging time when trying to keep your blood sugar levels in check. After all, we’re constantly surrounded by sweet baked goods, rich foods and myriad other holiday treats. Essentially, temptations are around every corner.
But just because you or your loved one has diabetes doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to enjoy the holiday season. Rather than eating a bland diet and driving yourself crazy trying to avoid the many seasonal treats, consider getting back into the kitchen and making some dishes that are both healthy and delicious.
Before you begin scouring the internet for a new recipe, consider these three helpful diabetes-friendly cooking tips to get you started.
Trim the fat
It’s no surprise that many holiday dishes are high in calories, carbohydrates, sugar and fats. But just because a recipe calls for these ingredients doesn’t mean that you have to incorporate them. There are ways to reduce your fat intake by making simple swaps. Here are a few:
- Use applesauce and mashed bananas for some, if not all, of the fats called for in a baking recipe.
- When cooking a recipe that calls for meat, trim any visible fat prior to cooking.
- Consider using a cooking spray or a drizzle of olive oil instead of butter when cooking food in a skillet.
Watch your salt intake
Just because your loved one has diabetes, that doesn’t mean that they can’t enjoy a flavor-packed meal. There are ways to add some flavor into your recipes without increasing their blood sugar levels or adding excess salt to a recipe.
- Consider testing out new herbs and spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and paprika in your recipes.
- Opt for fresh or frozen vegetables when possible. However, if you have to use a canned variety, rinse the vegetables before cooking.
- Rather than salting your vegetables, consider steaming them in a low-sodium broth with herbs to add some flavor.
Curb your carb intake
While carbohydrates are essential for survival and maintaining energy levels, you can overdo it if you’re not careful. For those living with diabetes, white, starchy carbohydrates can do a number on your blood sugar levels by causing a quick spike, which is then followed by a steady dip. That’s why whole grain carbohydrate options are a smarter choice for those with diabetes—they’re packed with nutritional benefits, including higher fiber and a slower digestion rate, which help keep blood levels at an even keel. At the end of the day, however, moderation is key. A good place to start when considering portion size is to focus on keeping your carbohydrate consumption between 45-60 grams per meal. Just remember, this is subject to change based on your diabetes management requirements.
Now that you have these three helpful tips in your recipe box, it’s time to test your culinary skills in the kitchen are you whip up a delicious dish for the holiday season. If you need a new recipe idea, look no further: Here are some diabetes-friendly holiday dishes from “Cooking Light!”