The Thanksgiving holiday is a wonderful time of year where friends and family congregate and enjoy each other’s company, as well as some fine food and drink.

This, however, can be challenging for people with diabetes that are trying to manage their blood sugar levels, as well as their weight.

Traditional Thanksgiving foods can be high in fat and carbohydrates, but with some sage planning, you can enjoy a healthy Thanksgiving in the knowledge that your diabetes control should not suffer as a result.

We’ve assembled seven tips for people with diabetes to navigate the potential pitfalls of Thanksgiving.

7. Have a good breakfast

Start the morning off with a good breakfast so that you don’t spend the rest of the day longing anxiously for an afternoon feast.

This way, you won’t be tempted to overeat when your Thanksgiving meal arrives, you’ll be able to appreciate the food more for not scoffing it down, and most importantly, you can keep your blood sugar at a familiar level before the meal as it would be on other days.

6. Plan your planning

Many families eat Thanksgiving meals late in the afternoon, which can interfere with your diabetes medication schedule if you eat lunch at the same time most other days.

Be sure to find out what time you will expect to be eating your meal and plan any changes to your medication routine well in advance. Checking with your health care team regarding this will account for any uncertainty about changing your medication.

5. Keep nibbles near

Snacking during waiting periods can prevent hunger building, but ensure that your choice of snack does not interfere with your blood sugar levels.

Raw vegetables or some nibbles of low-fat cheese would be suitable, but avoid snacks with carbohydrate and fat such as salted nuts or chips.

4. Select and save

Carbohydrate tends to be the central theme of a Thanksgiving dinner. Mashed and sweet potatoes, stuffing, dinner rolls and pumpkin pie are all packed with carbohydrates.

Have a reasonable portion of your favourite dishes and then pass on additional carbohydrates that you will not enjoy as much as your preferred selections. Try to keep your carbohydrate intake to a similar level as you would on a regular day.

3. Brighten your plate

Vegetables can provide some colour to a Thanksgiving meal, and steamed vegetables especially can provide a nutritious addition to your plate.

If you are cooking, steaming your vegetables rather than serving them a sauce-filled casserole, is a healthy, filling option. If you are visiting, suggest to bring a side salad or side of steamed vegetables yourself if you know that these will not otherwise be on the menu.

2. Drink with dinner

Drinking alcohol with a meal is fine for people with diabetes, within moderation. Starting beforehand is not advised, however, as drinking on an empty stomach will increase the amount of alcohol in your blood stream and the risk of hypoglycemia.

Drink with dinner at the earliest and consider diluting certain drinks such as white wine with seltzer water to concoct a white wine spritzer of sorts.

1. Substitute sugar

Dessert can often be the most problematic of servings for people with diabetes, with sugar often lurking in most pecan pies.

An alternative option, such as pumpkin pie, will reduce your sugar consumption, while artificial sweeteners and low-fat whipped cream are more appropriate companion ingredients to your dessert.

If you are cooking, use less sugar in your pies, especially fruit pies as the natural sweetness of the fruit will probably not demand any added sugar.