Sweet Holiday Tips for Diabetics

With care and moderation, people with diabetes can indulge, too

By R. Morgan Griffin
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

For diabetics, the holiday season is fraught with temptations. Candy is everywhere. Your well-meaning co-workers bring in plates of cookies that taunt you from the break room. You've got invitations to party after party where it seems like the foods were chosen either to test your will or spite you.

But before you decide to give everyone a piece of coal and hibernate through the holidays, you should know that being diabetic doesn't mean you have to give up your favorite seasonal foods.

During the holidays, don't deprive yourself for heaven's sake," says Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic "Recipe Doctor" and author of Tell Me What to Eat if I Have Diabetes: Nutrition You Can Live With.

Joining in the Fun

Although sweets are often considered a diabetic's worst enemy, managing diabetes is more complicated than simply avoiding sugar. For instance, other carbohydrates -- like a serving of mashed potatoes -- can cause a surge in blood sugar just like a candy bar. It's the total number of carbohydrates that counts and not the form you're eating them in. Fat, which abounds in holiday cooking, should also be kept to a minimum.

So what should you be eating during the holidays? "As at any time of the year, you should be eating a healthy, balanced diet low in saturated fat," says Gene Barrett, MD, of the department of internal medicine at the University of Virginia. He also stresses that you should be getting a good amount of fiber and complex carbohydrates.