thanksgiving dinner

Updated Jan. 8, 2021

The holidays present social opportunities for eating, drinking, and meeting with friends. Gatherings focused on food make maintaining a disciplined eating plan difficult. With all the sugary and carbohydrate-laden foods available, people with diabetes often find this time of year particularly challenging, and unwanted pounds acquired during the season can increase high blood sugar levels and lead to real health problems.

Keeping blood glucose levels in check and not overeating are important for people with diabetes, and by following a few simple tips, it is possible to avoid both during the holidays.

  1. Bring your favorite healthy, low-fat, carbohydrate-appropriate dish to the party so if nothing else fits in with your meal plan, at least your dish will provide an option.
  2. Never attend a party on an empty stomach. Skipping meals throughout the day can result in overindulging at the party. Eat a sensible breakfast. For lunch, have something like a lean turkey sandwich, salad, and fruit. Before the event, have a light snack.
  3. Have a plan for what, when, and how much you will eat. To ensure you enjoy this time, selectively eat foods that you do not usually eat during the rest of the year. And don’t forget to count your carbs!
  4. Eat slowly to savor the experience and make every bite count; you will be less likely to mindlessly eat something without noticing.
  5. Practice portion control. Before going to the party, visualize yourself eating a single serving of each special food, and not going back for seconds. Remind yourself that you do not have to taste everything that is being served.
  6. Convert your traditional holiday recipes to healthier recipes by using substitutions. Try using foods such as low-fat cottage cheese, yogurt, applesauce, shredded low-fat cheese, broth, and sugar substitutes. They may just become holiday favorites.
  7. If you want something more than water and aren’t sure whether diet or sugar-free drinks will be offered, bring your own carbohydrate-free beverage. Alcohol is full of calories and therefore must be consumed in small amounts to avoid weight gain. Never drink alcohol without your doctor’s permission.
  8. Socialize away from the table. The most popular socialization area is usually in the kitchen or near the food table. Many times people talk and eat, without realizing what they are consuming. This behavior can lead to overeating and surprisingly high blood glucose levels.
  9. Schedule your exercise and stick to it.
  10. Remember to test your blood glucose.

Having diabetes shouldn’t stop you from enjoying holiday celebrations. Planning now, before the holidays arrive, can help you to commit to a healthy season while you enjoy time with family and friends that’s packed full of cheer and holiday parties. See below for a healthy turkey meal!

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A Healthy Holiday Meal: Turkey Breast with Stuffing

Number of Servings: 6


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 ¼ cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 package (8 ounces) corn bread stuffing mix
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
  • ¾ teaspoon dried sage, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon dried thyme, divided
  • 1 boneless turkey breast (1 ½pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper


Preheat oven to 450° F. Coat a 1 ½-quart casserole with cooking spray; set aside. Coat large saucepan with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir 5 minutes. Add broth bring to a simmer. Stir in stuffing mix, apple, ¼ tsp. sage and thyme. Transfer mixture to prepared casserole; set aside.

Coat shallow roasting pan with cooking spray. Place turkey breast in pan, skin side up; coat with cooking spray. Mix paprika, remaining ½ tsp sage and thyme and pepper in small bowl; sprinkle mixture over turkey. Coat lightly with cooking spray.

Place turkey in oven; roast 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F. Place stuffing in oven alongside turkey; continue to roast 35 minutes or until internal temperature of turkey reaches 170° F when tested with meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast.

Nutrition Info Per Serving

Calories Total Fat Carbs Cholesterol Fiber
304 3 grams 34 grams 75 mg 7 grams
Calories from Fat Saturated Fat Protein Sodium  
8% 1 gram 33 grams 580 mg


About Endocrinology

The UPMC Department of Endocrinology stands as a national leader in research of diabetes and endocrine conditions. We partner with the University of Pittsburgh Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism for research and clinical trials. We treat diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, hormonal disorders, and thyroid disorders at several locations across our communities. We also have specialized Diabetes Centers to help you manage your disease. Find an expert near you.