November 23, 2015

Eating right can mean more holidays in your future

By Jessamy Wood, RDN, LD, CDE, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at Huggins Hospital

Holidays come with much anticipation and preparation. The whirlwind of the day picks us up, tosses us about, and then sets us back down at the end wondering what happened as our waistbands stretch. With some thought before and during the holiday, we can make some simple choices that will help us keep our focus on heathy eating…within reason of course.

Thanksgiving dinner and other holiday celebrations include rich, creamy, starchy foods as well as sweets. Yum! These dishes often come from recipes and traditions passed down from relatives and friends and tie into our feelings of family, togetherness and comfort. There is no reason you should not include some of these foods.

All it takes is a few small changes to make better choices. The key is portion size. I am not talking about taking out your measuring cups at the Thanksgiving table. There is an easier way called the Plate Method.

Think of your plate in terms of quarters. Draw an imaginary line down the middle of your plate and fill up one half with non-starchy vegetables and fruit. Non-starchy vegetables are all veggies EXCEPT potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, corn and winter squash. On this half-plate you would put carrots, green beans, salad, Brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, and asparagus; whatever is on your menu in these food groups. Next, put protein on a quarter of your plate. This Thursday it will likely be turkey. Gravy is fine too. On the last quarter, fit in the starchy foods. Here it comes… stuffing, a dinner roll, mashed potato, winter squash and sweet potato casserole all go here. What this means is take a taste of everything or choose one or two of these dishes you like best and confine them to one quarter of your plate combined.

Eating in this way will help you stay on track with your health goals whether you have diabetes or not. It will keep you from overeating the most calorie-dense foods and will still leave you feeling full and satisfied. You might still have room for a small slice of pie.

Once you have eaten and cleared up the dishes, put on your sneakers and head out for a walk with your family or friends. This is another way to feel connected and together on this holiday. Walking after a meal helps you use up some of the glucose now racing around in your blood stream. It keeps you from picking at the pie plate in front of you at the table, and makes you feel more energetic and happy.

No matter what, enjoy your day. Make memories with conversations, jokes you share, games you play, photos you take – and not just the foods you eat. Choosing healthy eating and being active just might give you more holidays in the future.

Jessamy Wood, RDN, LD, CDE, is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at Huggins Hospital. Jessamy offers individual and group nutrition programs for individuals who have conditions such as gastrointestinal disorders, anemia, weight and/or cholesterol issues, hypertension and diabetes. Huggins Hospital’s Diabetes Education is accredited by the American Association for Diabetes Educators. For more information about nutrition or diabetes programs through Huggins Hospital, please call Jessamy at 603-569-7549 or e-mail