Family having Thanksgiving dinner
Fitness & Nutrition

A Diabetic-Friendly Holiday Meal Plan

By on 11/22/2019

Holiday meals, like those during Thanksgiving or Christmas, can be difficult to get through if you have diabetes. The carb-loaded side dishes alone are enough to wreak havoc on blood sugar levels. Add a slice of pie or a festive drink and it becomes very challenging to enjoy your meal while still managing your disease.

The good news is that it only takes a few tweaks to your menu to create a healthier meal for everyone at the table, whether or not you have diabetes. You can still include some of your favorite standbys but by filling your plate with colorful fiber-rich veggies and reducing the amount of starchy carbs, you’ll be able to enjoy your holiday favorites in a healthier way.

Here are some ideas for making your holiday meal more diabetic-friendly:


  • Make a pitcher of “cranberry soda” as an alternative to cider and other sweet drinks. Simply add 1 cup of 100% cranberry juice to 6 cups of seltzer. Add slices of fresh lemon and lime.

Hors d’oeuvres:

  • Put out a colorful platter of raw veggies. Serve with a dip of plain Greek yogurt seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. Add fresh herbs like dill or parsley.

Side dishes:

  • Instead of mashed potatoes, whip up a bowl of mashed cauliflower, celery root bulb, low fat milk, chicken broth and garlic.
  • Use butternut squash or pumpkin along with or as a replacement for sweet potatoes. These gourds offer all the taste of the season but with fewer carbs and calories.
  • Roast Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and onions in olive oil for a tasty seasonal side dish. Sprinkle with goat cheese.


  • Fill a bowl with mixed fresh berries. They’re not only low-calorie and loaded with fiber, but they look pretty on the table and can satisfy a sweet tooth. 
  • Offer bite-size desserts to help control portions. This way you can still take a bite or two of your favorite holiday dessert without going overboard. Mini muffin tins are a great way to bake your favorite recipe in smaller portion sizes.

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Date Last Reviewed: September 4, 2019

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RD

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