Dr. Dylan: Managing Diabetes on Thanksgiving

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A big part of Thanksgiving is the food, but for a diabetic the meal can be difficult to navigate. Dr. Dylan explains that during Thanksgiving we tend to eat high calorie-dense foods. This includes mashed potatoes, cranberries, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. It can be challenging for people with diabetes to regulate their blood sugar.

Diabetes mellitus is a term used for people who have trouble using the sugar that is in their blood. “When any of us have sugar in our bloodstream, our body wants to bring that sugar in to cells and tissues where it can be used. It does this using a hormone called insulin,” Dr. Dylan uses the analogy of a doorbell. “It lets our cells know to open up the door to let sugar in.”

There is two types of diabetes- Type 1 and Type 2. The first means that your body doesn’t make insulin. This is like a door that doesn’t have a doorbell, meaning your body doesn’t know that that sugar is waiting to get let in.

The second type means the cells in your body has gotten used to a higher level of insulin, which means it doesn’t respond easily to the insulin’s message. This is like having a bunch of kids ringing your doorbell constantly. You’d be less likely to answer it.

There are ways to help those with diabetes, “The best way to help is to all get involved so it’s not everyone eating a normal thanksgiving meal and have somebody in the corner on their own,” Dr. Dylan suggests making small changes in ingredients, slowing down the pace of eating, and reduce portion sizes. “If you’re diabetic, stick to the protein. Go right for the turkey. And if you have carbs, stick to the carbs that have fiber in them.” He explains that dietary fiber slows the absorption of sugar.

Dr. Dylan shares a few ideas for recipes:

  • Mashed potatoes: Try replacing up to half the serving of potato with cauliflower because it has lower glycemic load, and if blended has a surprisingly similar texture to traditional mashed potatoes.
  • Pumpkin Pie: Try cutting down the amount of sugar in the recipe and use additional flavors, such as cinnamon or ginger, to round out the flavor profile.
  • Stuffing: Add extra onions and celery to replace some of the bread, or even replace a portion of the bread with apples! Though they have carbohydrates, apples also have plenty of non-digestible fiber.
  • Roast squash: Less of a traditional food, but certainly fits with the flavors of the day. Slice pumpkin or a winter squash, coat it in olive oil, and bake it in the oven. You can also add in some sliced root veggies like carrots and parsnips, and some rosemary. Green Bean Casserole: Try to steer clear of adding additional carbs like bread crumbs or breaded fried onions to the beans, as well as