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Healthy Eating During Winter Gatherings for People with Diabetes

By the National Diabetes Education Program

Winter is a season of holiday celebrations, football playoffs, and other occasions when family and friends get together over meals and snacks. For people with type 2 diabetes, it can be a challenge to stick to a meal plan. Mouth-watering options such as honey-baked ham, buttery mashed potatoes, and sweetened yams are popular for festive dinners, while chicken wings, cheesy nachos, and chips are among the favorites at football play-offs and other gatherings. However, you don’t have to completely avoid all of your favorite foods. The key is to make a variety of healthy food choices and limit portion sizes.

Follow these tips from the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) to help you eat healthy during gatherings throughout the winter season:

• Eat a healthy snack. Eat a healthy snack before leaving home to prevent overeating at the party.

• Plan ahead. Check out the party food options before you begin eating, and make a mental note of what and how much you will eat.

• Bring a healthy dish. Bring a dish that fits into your meal plan and you can share with others.

• Move away from the buffet. Fix your plate, and then step away from a table of finger foods to avoid grazing while chatting.

• Savor the flavor. Eat slowly to reduce your chances of overeating.

• Drink water. Water is a healthy, no-calorie beverage. Drink plenty of it.

• Trim it down. Eat smaller portions of food. Trim off extra skin and fat from meat.

• Enjoy the party. Focus on family, friends, and activities rather than food. Stay active by participating in games or dancing.

Follow these tips if your goal is to serve healthy feasts to your guests:

• Bake it. Broil it. Grill it. Keep meat low in fat by cooking without frying.  Trim beef and pork of visible fat and choose skinless poultry.

• Increase fiber. Serve whole grain breads, vegetables, peas, and beans as part of your meals.

• Easy on the toppings. Lighten your recipes by using reduced-fat or fat-free mayonnaise, butter, sour cream, or salad dressing.

• Focus on fruits. Serve fresh or canned fruit in water instead of ice cream, cake, or pie.

• Serve low-calorie beverages. Offer your guests water instead of juice or regular soda.

• Family support is key. Support your family and friends by encouraging them to eat healthy during the winter months and throughout the year.

For more information about diabetes or diabetes classes call the local health department and ask to speak to the diabetes educator.  You may also find more information on the website at .  Follow LCDHD on Facebook at or Twitter:

For more information about managing diabetes, contact the National Diabetes Education Program at 1-888-693-NDEP (1-888-693-6337), TTY: 1-866-569-1162 or visit to order your copy of 4 Steps to Manage Your Diabetes for Life .

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program is jointly sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the support of more than 200 partner organizations.

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