Fresh Focus #18: Scaling back the holiday meal


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The holidays can be a whirlwind, even this year with just a small household group. After the dust settles and the dishes are washed, it can feel like a crash of adrenaline. You’ve spent hours cooking and you probably don’t want to cook for the rest of the week. Thankfully, when you open up the fridge all you see are leftovers. This Fresh Focus podcast covers how to scale back on that holiday meal’s leftovers.

Eating out of your normal routine during the holidays can make individuals with diabetes feel uneasy after seeing a change in their blood sugars. It’s understandable to find yourself feeling this way. However, the key to getting blood sugars back on track is to focus on the basics. There is absolutely no need to do a fast, fad diet, or to sit around and binge on leftovers. Basically, don’t throw in the towel on your nutrition just because the “new year” is right around the corner.

Remember the Basics

There are many ways to utilize a post-holiday Healthy Plate Method for getting things back on track and to eat up those leftovers. Fill one quarter of the plate with protein, the other quarter with grain and starches. That leaves half of your plate to load up with colorful, high fiber, lower carbohydrate vegetables. Add olives, nuts, seeds, coconut oil and other fats to your completed plate. Individuals with Diabetes pay more attention to the carbohydrate portions (exchanges) of the plate, which have the biggest impact on blood sugars.

A favorite post-holiday leftover meal is “fancy grilled cheese.” It’s about 45 grams of carbohydrates and I’m betting you have a few of the ingredients on hand. All you need is leftover turkey, cranberry sauce, a mild cheese of your choice, and bread. Many enjoy sourdough bread and provolone, mozzarella, or Havarti cheeses, but you can choose whichever options you love.

While your skillet (or grill) is heating up, put butter on the outside of each slice of bread. Place the turkey, cheese, and cranberry sauce inside and close up the sandwich. Grill both sides just like you would a traditional grilled cheese sandwich. Once your bread is toasted, it’s ready to eat! Dip your leftover raw veggies in some hummus or an olive oil-based salad dressing. Now your healthy plate meal is complete.

Consistency is the Best Strategy

You can enjoy foods with carbohydrates as long as you are mindful of portions. It’s important to be as consistent as possible in your intake, especially if you’re on a set medication or insulin routine. Certain diabetes medications such as Glipizide, or rapid acting insulin, like Novolog, work quickly. If you don’t eat carbohydrates when you take them, you may end up with hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels. Being consistent with your carbohydrate intake can help prevent the rollercoaster of blood sugar levels (when you have highs and lows).


Natalie Adams is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist.

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