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Question: Can I manage my diabetes and still eat pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving?
Kim Miller, Registered Dietitian & Diabetes Educator, Answers: Holidays are a time for tradition, and food is a loving part of that tradition. For many of us, Thanksgiving is just not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. When you have to factor diabetes into the equation, holiday favorites can become a bit trickier, but they are still manageable!
The key to managing your diabetes is planning. Rather than worrying about eating too much or too little when faced with a Thanksgiving spread, focus on managing your carbohydrates.
Carbohydrate-heavy foods affect your glucose level (blood sugar), and one piece of pumpkin pie translates to two or three servings of carbohydrates. That is roughly half of your carbohydrate needs per meal!
These helpful tips will work to minimize the effect of this holiday favorite:
- Cut the pie into ten pieces instead of six or eight. This portion control trick means fewer carbohydrates per piece.
- Enjoy a small piece of pie at least two hours after the meal; it will be less likely to affect glucose levels when not accompanied by other carbohydrates.
- If you would like to plan the pie as part of your meal, avoid loading up on other carbohydrates, such as potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, or corn.
- To lower the fat and carbohydrate content of your slice of pie, eat the filling instead of the crust.
Keep in mind that “sugar-free” is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. Using a sugar substitute in pie, such as Stevia or Splenda, will not eliminate carbohydrates. In fact, some commercial sugar-free pies have even more carbohydrates than regular pie because of what is substituted to avoid flavor loss.
Remember, it is not a single piece of pumpkin pie that packs on holiday pounds or sends blood sugar soaring—it is the holiday climate of stress and excess. When we are running around finding the perfect table setting, coordinating the food, and welcoming guests, it is easy to forget to eat lunch. Entering your dinner meal feeling starved leads to overeating. It is best to enter your meal just a little hungry and take your time. Conversing with friends and family helps pace us. When you savor each bite of food, you not only thoroughly appreciate the meal, but are also more satisfied, making it easier to make smart choices about when to enjoy that slice of pie!
For more tips and information on diabetes management, make an appointment with your local Laurel Health Center provider.