How to plan for special events when you have diabetes

Food is often the centerpiece for summer events like barbecues and picnics so it is important to plan ahead.

Summer is often a time of year most of us look forward to because of the increased opportunity to spend time with friends or family during outdoor activities, barbecues and picnics. Summer also brings special events like graduations and weddings. If your friends and family are like mine, the centerpiece of special events is often the food. And we’re talking banquet style eating when we are not particularly watching our serving sizes or what we choose to eat. However, if you have diabetes, special celebrations are not an invitation to abandon your healthy eating plans. Here are some guidelines to follow to enjoy your celebration in a healthy way:

  • Plan ahead. If you’re hosting the event create a menu that balances foods high in fats, salt and sugar with an equal number of dishes that feature low-carbohydrate foods including fresh veggies.
  • If you’re a guest, offer to bring a healthy dish like a veggie tray with low-fat dip or roasted low-carb vegetables like asparagus or green beans. Even a large mixed salad would work.
  • The day of the event, don’t skip meals thinking that you’ll save all of your carb choices for the “big event”. Instead plan meals that are low in salt and fat to save calories but still have the number of carbs that your health care provider has determined for each meal.
  • If your event includes “special” foods that you don’t normally eat, wedding cake or fancy appetizers, don’t fill up on ordinary foods like bread, rolls, chips or cheeses. Save your carbohydrate choices to enjoy foods you normally wouldn’t eat.
  • Get your exercise in before you leave. A party atmosphere will encourage you to put off being physically active for another time or you can find yourself arriving home too late to have time for physical activity.
  • Stand away from the food tables. Out of sight is out of mind. Standing by the buffet or wedding cake will encourage you to eat more.
  • Speaking of standing, try to stand as often as you can. Often we end up sitting at parties and that’s not good for our health. Sit only when necessary.
  • Organize activities if it’s possible. There are lots of games that can be played if the event is held outdoors and games are a great way to keep people engaged and mingling. If there’s music, dance. Dancing can be done anywhere — you don’t need a dance floor to do this.

Enjoy your special day! Doing it in a healthy way will make it that much more enjoyable for you with no regrets later.

For more information on living a healthy lifestyle, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

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