Best Tips & Recipes for Thanksgiving with Gestational Diabetes

low carb thanksgiving meal on a plate with turkey Sweet potato and vegetables

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, family, and, of course, delicious food. However, for those managing gestational diabetes, the holiday season can bring challenges in maintaining blood sugar levels. With thoughtful planning and mindful choices, it’s possible to enjoy a festive Thanksgiving while keeping gestational diabetes under control. Remember a Low-carb Thanksgiving does not mean NO Carb Thanksgiving! Check the below tips for navigating Gestational Diabetes Thanksgiving meals.

  1. Prioritize Protein: One key strategy for managing gestational diabetes during Thanksgiving is to start your meal with protein. Turkey, lean meats, and plant-based protein sources can help stabilize blood sugar levels and create a sense of fullness, reducing the temptation to overindulge and helping you stay on track for a low-carb Thanksgiving. You can even have a protein drink right before dishing up your gestational diabetes Thanksgiving meal to help with portion control and hunger levels.
  2. Choose Non-Calorie Drinks: Opting for non-calorie drinks, such as water, sparkling water, clear protein waters, and unsweetened tea, can be a smart choice. Sugary beverages can quickly spike blood sugar levels, so staying hydrated with alternatives that won’t impact your glycemic control is important.
  3. Fill Half Your Plate with Vegetables: Vegetables are low in carbohydrates and high in fiber, making them an excellent choice for those managing gestational diabetes or sticking to a low-carb Thanksgiving meal. Fill at least half your plate with various colorful, non-starchy vegetables to add nutrition and help control blood sugar levels.
  4. Be Cautious of Sauces and Sides: Traditional Thanksgiving fare often includes gravies, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, which can be laden with sugar and refined flour. Exercise caution with these items, and watch portions for a gestation diabetes Thanksgiving meal. A little gravy may be fine, but a plate swimming in gravy may spike numbers.
  5. Take a Pre- and Post-Meal Walk: Incorporating a short walk before and after your Thanksgiving gestational diabetes meal can positively impact blood sugar levels. Walking helps your body use insulin more effectively, allowing for better glucose control. It’s also a great way to spend time with loved ones and create lasting memories.
  6. Prioritize High-Carb Foods: Identify the high-carb dishes you enjoy the most and allow yourself to savor them in moderation. While it’s important to be mindful of portion sizes, there’s no need to deprive yourself completely. Enjoy your favorite holiday treats without guilt, but be conscious of how they fit into your overall meal plan. Eat your protein first before enjoying the high-carb dish. This will help your portion control during the gestational diabetes Thanksgiving meal. It’s low-carb Thanksgiving. It is NOT no carb or no fun!
  7. Don’t Stress Over One Elevated Blood Sugar Reading: It’s essential to remember that one elevated blood sugar reading is not a cause for panic. Aim for 80% control of after-meal blood sugars and 80% control of fasting blood sugars, understanding that perfection is not the goal. Consistent effort and mindful choices over time are key to managing gestational diabetes effectively.

With thoughtful planning and mindful choices, it’s possible to navigate Thanksgiving with gestational diabetes or a low-carb Thanksgiving while still enjoying the spirit of the holiday. You can create a festive and diabetes-friendly Thanksgiving celebration by focusing on protein, choosing non-calorie drinks, incorporating vegetables, being cautious of certain dishes, taking walks, and prioritizing high-carb foods. Remember, it’s about making informed choices and finding a balance that allows you to enjoy the holiday season while prioritizing your health and your baby’s health.

Check out my personal favorite low-carb Thanksgiving Recipes by fellow experts!

  1. Eating Well Low Carb Thanksgiving Sides Recipe List
  2. All-Recipes Low-Carb Thanksgiving Recipe List
  3. Taste of Home 45 Low-Carb Thanksgiving Dishes
  4. The Kitchn Low-Carb Thanksgiving Meals
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Ginger Cochran is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner, Certified Diabetes Educator & Care Specialist, Certified Wellness Coach, Certified Exercise Physiologist, and owner of Nutritious Ginger, an integrative and functional nutrition practice focusing on full body self-care and nourishment. Ginger’s primary specialty is women’s health, with a special emphasis on gestational diabetes, weight management, infertility, digestive wellness, and overall health + happiness.
Ginger serves on the board of director for the Nutrition Care Manual by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.