Thanksgiving is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday of the year. Nothing against the excitement of the Christmas season, or the summer delight of 4th of July, but Thanksgiving represents the best of what a holiday should be: family, food, football and naps. (Not necessarily in that order.) For years, my mother has always had mine and my brother’s family over and made an incredible smorgasbord of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, baked beans, sweet potato casserole, cookies, cakes and pies. A veritable delight to the taste buds.
And a minefield for a diabetic.
For the normal person, Thanksgiving is where they willingly induce themselves into a food coma, happily consuming as many calories as they can in the name of holiday cheer. For me, Thanksgiving is a gauntlet of glucose I have to carefully negotiate, making sure all those carbs I eat at lunch don’t play havoc with my body for the rest of the day. Or worse, making sure I don’t over-bolus and spend the rest of the day eating more than I want to trying to get back to normal.
Take my mother’s homemade chocolate chip cookies. Since I was a boy, I have loved her cookies with a passion, and nothing has changed as I have grown into adulthood. The only difference is that when I was fifteen years old I had a working pancreas and the metabolism of a jackrabbit. Now, the metabolism has slowed, and the pancreas? Well, you know. Anyway, because of the changes, I’ve had to change my eating habits at Thanksgiving, and the day has become a strategy unto itself:
First, I determine what time we’re eating. We used to eat at noon; now we eat around 4:30 pm. So from the time I wake up until early afternoon I had to be careful with not consuming too much food, and I usually try to do a six to eight mile run to build up my appetite and keep my glucose levels in check.
Second, I determine what is off-limits. I strive to eat a balanced meal, mixing in carbs, protein and vegetables. I stay away from veering strictly to the heavy carb-laden dishes like casseroles and potatoes, and reduce my stuffing intake to a few spoonfuls. If I decide to eat more than originally planned, then I will adjust my insulin, but I try to keep it within normal limits.
Third, I determine my dessert priority. Like anyone, I love sweets, but I’m not like anyone because I have more to consider. So be it, I say. I’m still going to indulge. After my run earlier in the day and the careful planning, I do believe it is okay to enjoy the desserts my mother makes, but not at the risk of making me feel itchy and dry the rest of the night. So I look and see what she’s made, choose two desserts to eat, and get one helping each. Simple but effective.
It’s not a perfect plan, but it works for me. Happy Turkey Day! After all the fun and food, someone has to clean up this mess!