cooking diabetes Health Healthy Eating Holiday Menu planning

November Noshing

Make healthful mealtimes easier for everyone at the table.

Updated 11/2020

November is Diabetes Month. Just like every other time of the year, chances are, diabetes is on a lot of people’s minds—whether it’s you, your family, or someone else you care about.

How do you plan meals that cater to health needs like this? Try these three easy tips and you will be on your way to celebrating the holidays – and every day – with traditional treats that make everyone feel special—and still keep health in mind.

  1. Have a conversation. Make it comfortable for people to share any special health related needs with you prior to the meal. For more formal meals, consider “name tags” for each dish on pretty notecards with a list of ingredients. This will make it easy for those with medical concerns to navigate on their own. From intolerances to chronic conditions, communication is key, and whether you ask ahead or incorporate the information into the meal plan, people will appreciate the information. If you are not the cook, talk privately with the person preparing the meal(s), especially if you have allergies. Offering to help prepare dishes can make it easier on everyone, too. Plus, working together to prepare meals every day or on a holiday can be so much fun!
  2. Serve meals with all five food groups in mind. Chances are, if a balanced menu is planned to include some simple choices from the different food groups—in addition to more decadent dishes that are seasonal favorites— pretty much everyone can find something to eat that suits their health goals. Offer fruits and veggies with sauces or dips served on the side. Include grains like rice, whole grain rolls, or crackers, and have milk, yogurt, and cheese to enjoy on their own or with other items. Serve protein foods and desserts in a variety of portion sizes. With these simple steps, each person can enjoy meals that they tailor to fit their needs.
  3. Move it! Holidays make busy days seem even busier, but there’s always time for health. We know how helpful exercise is for so many reasons, whether you have diabetes or not. Even on holidays, stick to your normal activity routine and fit in fitness where you can. If you are shopping online, remember to get up frequently to stretch and get some steps. March in place if watching the game on commercial breaks, and go for a walk if weather permits.

Here’s to starting the holiday season off right with better choices in mind!

By Kim Kirchherr

I am a dietitian working in food and fiber (agriculture) through retail, addressing opportunities to make things better for people and planet.