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Finding Diabetic-Friendly Options for Thanksgiving

Diabetes-Friendly Guide to Thanksgiving
Posted at 5:30 PM, Nov 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-23 13:37:58-05

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- With Thanksgiving coming up, food will be a big part of most get-togethers, but for diabetics, the feast comes with some limits.

WTXL spoke to Tallahassee Memorial dietician Jessica Michaloski to learn more about the choices diabetics have to make with food during the holidays.

Many people are aware of sugar's role in diabetes, but carbs are also a concern. How do you advise diabetics when it comes to portion sizes, so they're not overloading on carbs?

"Sugar is a type of carbohydrate, so you do want to be careful with your desserts and sugary foods like that. One tool that I use for teaching patients how to portion out their carbohydrates correctly is using the plate method. You should try and make half of your plate vegetables -- non-starchy vegetables, which isn't traditionally what most people do on thanksgiving. Those non-starchy vegetables are lower in carbohydrates. We have [another section for] grains, breads, starchy vegetables, so those would be things like mashed potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes. Those are going to be higher in carbs, so you want to keep those portions smaller."

We have our favorite traditional Thanksgiving items, but what are some alternates that are safe options for diabetics?

"There's plenty of ways you can adapt your traditional recipes to be lower-carb, higher fiber. One of the best ways is just to increase your non-starchy vegetables. With stuffing, if you normally put a little bit of onions and peppers in there, maybe just doubling the amount of vegetables you put in. With desserts, things like fruit pies and sweet potato casserole -- a lot of those don't need any sugar, so you can just cut that sugar in half and let the fruits give it flavor."

The latest national numbers show 29 million Americans have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. That's 9.3 percent of the population.