Question: My family gets together a lot for various occasions, and many carbs enter the room in terms of snacks, desserts, and special drinks. It's always very yummy and my family says I should feel free to say no to the food, because of my diabetes. How can I get them to support instead of tempt me?
Answer: This is the number one question I receive from my clients. Social gatherings can be a challenging time to stick to your eating plan, but creating an environment of support can make all the difference in maintaining your health (and blood glucose).
The first step to take before asking your family to support rather than tempt you is to inform them of why you are eating the way you are. Many people do not realize the significance of choosing healthier food options, specifically lower carbohydrate choices. Share with them how different foods affect your blood sugar readings and why it is important to keep your readings within a certain range. If they better understand the “why”, they may be less likely to make you feel guilty for not choosing to eat their special treats or entrees, and may be more likely to avoid bringing some of these dishes in the first place.
I think it’s also vital to realize and educate family and friends that the best foods to eat when you have diabetes, is the same as everyone else. It is simple a healthy eating plan that everyone can benefit from, so feel free to encourage others to join you! :)
When temptation strikes, here are a few helpful guidelines:
Bring your own food: This is not to say that you don’t eat any of what other people brought, but by contributing to the potluck (or whatever event it is) with one of your favorite and diabetes-friendly meals, appetizers, or even desserts, you can ensure there will be something available for you to eat in order to avoid becoming ravenous or making less healthy choices.
Encourage your family to participate in your healthier lifestyle: Talk with them about how easily certain entrees or desserts can be made into a healthier, lower carb version, and encourage them to try out these tips in their own cooking styles. If you are looking for a few new recipes, here are my lower carb favorites.
Pick and choose wisely: Ask yourself what really sounds good to you and choose foods you genuinely think you will enjoy while eating them within a reasonable portion size. No one should make you feel guilty for saying “no thank you” …or indulging in a treat, since you know what’s best for your blood glucose.
Allow these gatherings to fit in as a normal part of your lifestyle: Don’t beat yourself up if you leave the event realizing you ate a little less healthfully than you intended to, or if your blood sugar is a little higher than usual. Remember that no one has a “perfect diet” and that participating in special eating events with family or friends is a part of life that is meant to be enjoyed, not avoided. Simply be sure to try to get back to your regular way of eating at the next meal or day to help balance things out.
Social gatherings, holidays, and work parties can still fit into a diabetes-friendly eating pattern. Going into these events with a positive attitude instead of instantly assuming your diet will be “ruined” can help you both make healthier choices and enjoy the event even more, a win-win situation! No one’s social life needs to be put on hold because of diabetes. :)