University of Arkansas Extension Service

The holidays are here! November is also diabetes awareness month. Whether you have diabetes or have been told by a doctor you are pre-diabetic, the holidays can create special challenges. How can you stick with a healthy meal plan and enjoy all the festivities and celebrations? All it takes is a little planning and know how before you face the endless parties and buffet tables.

Make a plan. Before you go to the party, think about what foods will be served. Decide which foods will help keep your blood sugar under control and which foods you want to avoid. Look at the buffet once you get there and then choose one or two favorite treats along with healthier items to round out your meal.

Watch your portions. Many foods on the buffet table are loaded with fat, sugar, or salt. Take very small portions of deep-fried foods, fatty foods wrapped in bacon, cheesy foods and desserts.

Come prepared. If you are asked to bring a dish, be sure to bring one that is healthy and one you can eat. Don’t make a big production of it. Many people will never miss the lower salt, lower fat, or lower sugar variation. In fact, they may even ask for the recipe!

Focus on family and friends, instead of food. When you arrive at a party, don’t make a be-line for the buffet table. Visit with people. Waiting later to eat, may prevent multiple trips to the food bar.

Fill half of your plate with vegetables. Choose vegetables that are colorful such as broccoli, bell peppers, green beans, carrots, cabbage, eggplant and spinach.

Choose fresh or steamed veggies. Avoid vegetables or vegetable dishes that are loaded with butter and cheese which included many of the vegetable casseroles. If needed, take just a small spoonful or a taste.

Take 2-3 ounces of protein. If the chicken, turkey or other lean cuts of meat are baked or grilled, then you can feel good about eating these foods. Avoid over doing it though. 2-3 ounces is about the size of a deck of playing cards.

Go easy on the breaded meats. Many of the meats on a buffet line are breaded then deep-fried and served along with heavy sauces. Take just a taste of these foods, if you just can’t resist them.

Look for high-fiber grains. Choose steamed brown rice, whole-grain crackers or whole-grain breads whenever possible. Avoid loading up on cheese spreads, dips or butter as add-ons to whole grain foods.

Watch out for desserts and drinks. Most desserts and drinks are high in sugar. Choose fresh fruit whenever possible. Fruit is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals not found in other foods. If you can’t resist the dessert table, take only a small portion and enjoy it.

The holidays happen only once a year. Enjoy them! However as with everything else, enjoy them in moderation!

If you would like more information on eating healthy, following the dietary guidelines or interested in attending nutrition workshops, contact the Hempstead County Extension Office at 870-777-5771 or visit our office located on the first floor of the courthouse. I’ll be glad to add you to our newsletter list to let you know when programs are scheduled. You can also email: [email protected] 

Information for this article was adapted from the National Diabetes Education Program. Check out their website at

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

La Universidad de la División de Sistemas de Arkansas de Agricultura ofrece a todos sus programas y servicios de extensión e investigación sin importar la raza, color, sexo, identidad de género, orientación sexual, origen nacional, religión, edad, discapacidad, estado civil o de veterano, información genética, o cualquier otro estado legalmente protegido, y es una acción afirmativa / ofrece igualdad de oportunidades.

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