Healthy Halloween Party
If you are having a Halloween party, healthy eating can be a challenge but its not impossible.
When I review my patients' food records and glucose logs with them, many say things like, "This was a bad day because I had a party and I ate a bunch of unhealthy appetizers. I knew my blood sugars were going to be high." Chips and dips, cheese and crackers, chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, pizza, and an abundance of desserts from candy to cookies and cake can make any party a scary scene for people with diabetes.
Halloween is a favorite holiday for most kids, but it can be a stressful time for parents of kids with diabetes (and adults with diabetes, too). Click here for some kid-related tips for surviving this year's Halloween.
It seems that Halloween has grown in popularity over the years, and it's not just for kids any more. Halloween parties are a huge hit for adults. Along with amazing costumes, at these parties you'll usually find plenty of and high-fat and - carbohydrate treats. Halloween, too, can be the kick-off to the party season: Football parties may have already started for some, and this will be soon followed by holiday parties and, later, the ever-popular Superbowl Sunday party. Below are some tips for staying healthy at Halloween parties and any time of year.
First, hosting the party is the easiest way to control your eating because you can buy and prepare healthy appetizers and snacks. Here are a few examples:
- Veggies and dip. Use light sour cream and plain, fat-free yogurt for your dip base. Then, instead of using powdered ranch dressing mix or soup mixes, all of which are high in sodium, you can add your own herbs and seasonings such as onion powder, garlic powder, a dash of hot sauce and some chopped chives. You can also serve veggies with hummus, which is made from chickpeas and found in the produce section of most grocery stores.
- Cheese and crackers. Use whole-wheat crackers and light cheese. There are now great tasting, reduced-fat cheeses on the market, sold in blocks or in spreadable form, that are much lower in saturated fat.
- Pizza. It's an American favorite, and having diabetes doesn't make this a forbidden food. You can make your own healthy version that is simple and tasty. Start with a pre-packaged, whole-wheat, Italian pizza crust, such as the one made by Boboli. Top the crust with tomato sauce and your favorite veggies, such as mushrooms, spinach, or green peppers, and sprinkle with reduced-fat, shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Diabetes-friendly desserts. Sugar-free puddings and gelatins can be incorporated into many desserts. Pumpkin bread is also really popular this time of year, and it's a treat that can be modified to decrease carbs and fat (see recipe below).
If you are not hosting the party, healthy eating can be more challenging, but it's not impossible. Here's how:
- Most parties will have some healthy options, such as veggies, but then it may be served with a dip that's high in calories and saturated fat. So, you can go heavy on the veggies and very light on the dip.
- If cheese and crackers are an option, and whole-wheat crackers are nowhere to be found, eat a few small pieces of cheese and nibble one cracker in between bites.
- Check with the host before the party and offer to bring an appetizer. This way you can guarantee there will be at least one healthy item for you to eat at the party. And, you may want to make this a hearty appetizer to help fill you up. For example, you can make turkey wraps with whole-wheat tortillas and fill with an avocado spread and veggies. Cut the wraps into appetizer size pieces (use toothpicks to hold them together) and you have a high-fiber, protein-rich snack.
Being prepared for any eating situation is one of the best ways to deal with your diabetes. Most of the time it does require some planning and especially for a party.
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Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...