Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. My family is bat shit crazy and I love all the creatures in it with everyfiber of my being. I literally can’t sleep (already) because I’m thinking about the snuggles and laughs I’m going to share with my cousins, the mayhem of doggies running around and drinks being spilled, my grandmother sitting in the corner smiling as she observes her kingdom sloppily race through the house, slipping in our socks, and causing a scene. The chaos is so fulfilling, and I am so unbelievably lucky to share a bloodline with the hooligans that I do.
As a diabetic, Thanksgiving is both a blessing (ha) and a curse. The amount of carbs I have to stare in the face (and then devour) on Thursday makes my insulin pump sweat because he has to work so hard to keep up. It’s taken me a few years to really figure out how to manage this holiday because by no means do I feel like missing out on a single bite of stuffing. So, below I have 10 tips that I try to incorporate to make sure my body doesn’t have a total meltdown during Thanksgiving.
- Proactively Carb Count. Excessive planning is in my genetic makeup, so this one comes easily to me, but it might not for everyone! Planning ahead when we go out to restaurants is nearly impossible in real life, but from a food “anticipation” perspective, we’re pretty lucky on Thanksgiving. We know – for the most part – what kinds of food could be laid out: Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce, etc. So, do yourself a gigantic favor a do a lil’ research on all of these food items ahead of time. What’s a serving size of mashed potatoes (other than 400 scoops on my plate)? How many carbs are in stuffing, anyway? Add it up and see where you might end up netting out in terms of coverage for the day. This way you already know what to expect and you’re not scrambling to guess in the moment when you already have fork and knife in hand, ready to chow down.
- Make Your Day A Graze-Free Day. If you’re anything like my family, you munch on snacks on Thanksgiving from 9am until 2am. And it’s alllll bad. Cheese, nuts, more cheese, olives, and more nuts. You’d think that none of us had ever eaten before the way we flock to the hor’ dourves tables. To avoid this terrible habit (it’s bad for everyone, not just diabetics!), I try really hard to go outside. Like, I have to physically remove myself from the cheese’s line of sight. I’ll go throw the football with my dad, walk the dogs with my aunts, or go for a jog with my cousin to try and kill time before the real meal actually goes down.
- Blame It On The Alcohol. That’s what I always do, anyway. But seriously, booze can have a shitload of carbs if you’re sippin’ on festive lady cocktails. My aunt makes a mean cosmo I have a hard time saying no to! However, you can be smart about what you drink (don’t quote me on that). Adding 4 glasses of spiked cider to your mountain of stuffing might not be the wisest choice, ya know? Like, don’t push it. Stick to beer and wine, (~5-15g of carbs per glass), and drink a TON of water throughout the day. This will help flush out all the icky stuff while also preventing Friday’s inevitable food and whatever else hangover.
- Beware the Insulin Stack. If you cover something, set an alarm for 4 hours from that time. This is about how long short-acting insulin lasts in your bod. This way, if you go to cover MORE food later, you’re not doing it before the other stuff has worn of. Trust me, you do NOT want a gnarly low when you’re so full your pants are unbuttoned under the table. It’s not pretty.
- Potato Problems. Remember that potatoes are actually the MOST annoying food ever. Why? Because they’re fucking delicious. They’re also the most stubborn starch known to man, and they will totally rock your blood sugars if you’re not careful. If you can help it, maybe do less with the mashed potatoes, and swap them out for sweet potatoes or, if you’re me, just….olives. All of the olives.
- Wear Real Pants. WHAT?! Yeah. Do it. Cuz if you wear your stretchies or your Lulu’s, you’ll eat WAY MORE than you should. Let your skinny jeans do you a favor, and tell you when it’s time to be cut off.
- TEST LIKE A CRAZY PERSON. This goes without saying. Keep your test kit out in a place you can easily get to, so throughout the day, you make time to do what’s right.
- Go Slow! I live in New York. And before that, Boston. Slow is not in my vocabulary anymore. But with Thanksgiving, it’s gotta be. Try to take your time with your meal. Taste everything. Talk to the people sitting around you. You’ll realize just how little (or medium, if you’re me) you’ll need to actually wolf down to be more than satisfied. Feeling sick after a meal is only funny sometimes.
- The Tryptophan Nap. I hate waking up from naps high. It’s the worst feeling. I always feel groggy and nauseous and like I just generally hate the world. So, before that deadly turkey hormone hits you, make sure your blood sugar is in a respectable place. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself when you wake up.
- Be Thankful. Thanksgiving is so gluttonous in one regard, but realize that by spending your day laughing with your tribe, you are so fortunate in so many ways. Having a warm, happy, open heart for a day is so good for your health IN GENERAL so soak it up and enjoy your day.
Hope this is helpful!