The Low Carb Jumpstart


Navigating Holidays and Social Gatherings On a Low Carb Lifestyle

Picture of groceries

Navigating the holiday season and social gatherings can be tricky, especially if you are watching what you eat and drink. This blog is here to guide you through the celebrations that we may have throughout the year, and tips to help empower you to make thoughtful decisions for your diabetes management and overall health.

Peer Tip: Be ready for Aunt Tillie

Every holiday gathering or family party has one. Aunt Tillies' know you have type 2 diabetes and like to scan your paper plate or meet you at the snack table to ask, "Are you supposed to be eating that?" So, what to do when you encounter them? Dick, a patient advocate from Portage, Michigan, recommended:

“Take it as an educational moment. Know yourself, your health, and your options. "Yes I'm a person with diabetes. I can eat anything I want. It's about the quantity, mix, and how I've fit this into my [meal] plan."

Below, we share our top 5 strategies to help you maintain your low-carb lifestyle and enjoy time with your loved ones.

1. Make a plan - set realistic goals and expectations

Without a doubt, having a plan can be useful in all aspects of our lives, especially for celebrations like the holidays and birthdays which can be a special time for many. Some people may choose to stick to their plan while others may decide to shift away from their meal plan during the holidays. If you choose to take a break, have a plan in place to get back on track within a day or two.

Leading up to a gathering, you might want to collect some information about the event. Where will this event take place? Are you hosting? Do your friends and family members know about your health journey and goals?

Setting realistic goals and expectations for how you would like to approach the event can be so valuable because it can help you make a plan that works for you, without compromising on the traditions that are important in your life. Perhaps you look forward to your aunt’s sweet potato pie she makes at Thanksgiving, or your birthday cake that your friends make for you each year. Whatever the occasion, having a plan can set you up for success by building in some flexibility to help keep you on track and enjoy the event.

2. Have a snack at home

If you are weary about the limited choices that may be available at a party or restaurant, try having a low-carb snack at home before heading out the door. It could be as simple as a couple of boiled eggs or leftovers from the day before. This strategy can help to satisfy the initial hunger and give you more control over your choices outside of the home. By going into a meal half full, you are less likely to overeat and bump into roadblocks along the way.

Low carb foods

3. Ask to bring a dish to share

Hosting a party can be a fun but stressful time, so any amount of help from others is usually appreciated. In this win-win situation, you might consider asking the host if you could bring a low-carb dish to share. That way, you can be confident that there will be options for you at the dinner table. Don’t be afraid to ask about ingredients in dishes too and how they were prepared which can help you make informed choices.

4. Fill up on veggies and protein first

When gatherings offer buffet style meals, a useful tip is to fill half your plate up with non-starchy veggies first, followed by protein. The veggies and protein will help balance your blood sugars after the meal, fill you up from all the fiber and protein, and leave you feeling satisfied. This method leaves less room for higher carb foods that are more likely to spike your blood sugars.

5. Let go of "all-or-nothing thinking"

The “all-or-nothing thinking” is a negative thought that can disrupt your motivation and progress. An example of this is “I’ve already messed up today by having a slice of cake, so why even bother trying anymore.” This type of thinking can lead to a negative cycle of repetition and can prevent you from reaching your goals. It is important to know that going off track for a few days will not reverse all your hard work! The key is to recognize these situations and respond with a plan to get back on track as soon as possible so you can keep moving forward towards your goals.

If you’d like more information about strategies to help you tackle social gatherings and holidays, check out this article from DiaTribe linked in our Jumpstart newsletter! It walks you through many useful tips on food, sleep, stress, and exercise.