The holiday season is a magical time filled with joy, laughter, and, of course, lots of delicious foods and fun events! As an intuitive eating gestational diabetes dietitian, I understand that for pregnant folks managing blood sugar levels while navigating emotional and physical challenges during this time can be a bit daunting. This is why I’m here to give you all my top tips on navigating gestational diabetes and Thanksgiving with joy and ease.
With a mindful and intuitive approach, you can savor this season without compromising your health or the well-being of your baby!
Table of Contents
Emotional and Physical Challenges
Before we can dive into the strategies for coping with gestational diabetes and thanksgiving, we have to address the unique challenges that may present themselves.
The holiday season often brings a mix of emotions, and coupled with the physical challenges of gestational diabetes, it can be a rollercoaster. The holiday season can amplify an already challenging journey, with added stressors like planning, organizing, and attending various events.
From cravings for festive treats to concerns about blood sugar levels, it’s crucial to acknowledge these feelings, without judgment. Give yourself the grace to experience the highs and lows while staying connected with your body and baby. If you’d like to learn more about coping with emotions with kindness, check out this short blog.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when navigating the added stress that can come this time of year:
- Plan Ahead: Before attending holiday events, do a mental check-in to see what barriers or fears are popping up. Do what you can to address those and make a game plan beforehand. For example, if you’re worried about balancing dishes look into building a balanced plate (which we’ll address below), if you’re worried about getting too tired make a game plan to leave early.
- Practice Mindfulness: Be mindful of your body’s signals and emotional responses. If you find yourself feeling stressed, take a moment to breathe deeply and refocus. Mindfulness can help you make intentional choices rather than reacting impulsively to external pressures.
- Delegate and Seek Support: You don’t have to navigate this journey alone. Delegate tasks, seek support from friends and family, and communicate your needs. Having a strong support system can alleviate some of the emotional burdens.
- Be in the Moment: I know gestational diabetes and blood sugar can be a stressor, but do your best to shift focus to enjoying the moment and loved ones around you. This can help alleviate some of the stress and pressure you may be feeling.
By putting in a little thought and effort beforehand to acknowledge our possible challenges and frustrations, we will be less overwhelmed and surprised when they do pop up.
Navigating Comments on Your Body/Pregnancy
Another potential challenge that can arise around the holiday season when it comes to gestational diabetes and thanksgiving is unsolicited comments about your body or pregnancy. Sadly, for some reason many people seem to think being pregnant is an excuse to say whatever they want about your body. As a parent-to-be managing gestational diabetes, it’s essential to prioritize your well-being and choose a response that best works for you.
Here are some strategies to navigate these comments and conversations:
- Politely Deflect:
- Respond with a simple, polite deflection. For example, “Thank you for your concern. My focus right now is on a healthy pregnancy, and I’m following the guidance of my healthcare team.”
- Change the Topic:
- Swiftly steer the conversation towards a different, neutral topic. For instance, “That reminds me, have you tried that new recipe for [insert dish]? I’d love to hear about it!”
- Set Boundaries:
- If you feel comfortable, assertively communicate your boundaries. You can say, “I appreciate your interest, but I prefer not to discuss my body or diet. Let’s focus on enjoying the holiday together.”
- Educate Gently:
- Share information about intuitive eating, gestational diabetes and the importance of following a personalized plan provided by your healthcare team. A gentle educational approach can help others understand your unique situation.
- Express Gratitude and Move On:
- Acknowledge the concern with gratitude, and then gently shift the conversation. For example, “I appreciate your concern for my well-being. Rest assured, I’m in good hands with my healthcare team. Now, tell me about your holiday plans!”
Whatever response you choose, know that it is valid and you are allowed to set boundaries/protect your peace as needed, even with loved ones.
Balancing Your Plate For Gestational Diabetes and Thanksgiving
Creating a balanced plate can be a helpful tool for balancing blood sugars over the holidays for gestational diabetes and thanksgiving. Remember, the goal here is to ADD, not restrict or try to eat as little as possible. Specifically, look for places to add in protein and fiber when you can. Here are a few examples of each:
- Turkey: A Thanksgiving staple, turkey is an excellent source of lean protein.
- Chicken: If your Thanksgiving feast includes options beyond turkey, grilled or roasted chicken can also be a protein-packed choice.
- Ham: Smoked ham is another protein option that adds variety to your plate.
- Tofu: For a vegetarian or vegan option, tofu can be a great source of protein. Marinate and bake it for a flavorful dish.
- Legumes: Dishes featuring beans, lentils, or chickpeas can contribute protein. Consider incorporating these into salads or side dishes.
- Eggs: Dishes like deviled eggs or egg-based casseroles provide a protein boost.
- Greek Yogurt: As part of a side dish or dessert, Greek yogurt adds protein and a creamy texture.
- Cheese and Nuts: Who doesn’t love a good cheese board platter?!
- Vegetables: Load up on vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans, salad and asparagus.
- Sweet Potatoes: A nutrient-dense, fiber-rich choice!
- Quinoa: A versatile grain that can be used in salads or as a side dish, providing both protein and fiber.
- Whole Grains: Opt for whole grain options such as brown rice, wild rice, or whole wheat rolls to increase fiber intake.
- Nuts and Seeds: Sprinkle chopped nuts or seeds over salads or side dishes for added fiber and crunch.
- Berries: If included in salads or desserts, berries can contribute both sweetness and fiber.
- Legumes: In addition to being a protein source, legumes like black beans, lentils, or chickpeas are high in fiber.
- Stuffing with Whole Grains: If stuffing is part of your Thanksgiving meal, consider using whole grain bread or adding grains like quinoa for extra fiber.
Pairing protein and fiber with carbs and fats is a recipe for better blood sugar balance!
As you enjoy meals and snacks, focus on eating slowly, savoring the meal, and dropping the all-or-nothing mentality. Remind yourself that you are allowed to have more later, or the next day, or the next day, and that these foods aren’t forbidden. To learn more about making peace with food, check out this blog post.
Other Tips For Managing Blood Sugar
- Don’t forget to stay hydrated, as water plays a crucial role in maintaining optimal blood sugar.
- Walking after a meal has also been shown to support blood sugar regulation! Get outside for 10 minutes to get some fresh air after a meal (also a great strategy if you need a break from the busyness lol)
- High stress can impact blood sugar levels, which is why it’s so important to protect your peace and manage stress where you can! Maybe that looks like not hosting this year, or getting a side dish from the store instead of cooking. Whatever works for you is best!
- Eat regularly throughout the day, or even consider splitting up your Thanksgiving meal into two meals if that works for your schedule! (This can help you not miss any of your favorite foods while also spreading out the foods throughout the day which can help with blood sugar)
Practicing Intuitive Eating on the Day
Embrace intuitive eating for gestational diabetes and thanksgiving by listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Instead of restrictive thinking, focus on nourishing your body with foods that nourish both your body and your soul. After all, this is only one day out of the year, and shouldn’t be a source of guilt and shame around food.
If you’d like to learn more about an intuitive eating approach to your pregnancy that is free of restriction and diet culture judgment, I’d love to guide you. Click here to book a free discovery call with me (an intuitive eating dietitian and doula) or click here to get started with some free blogs on intuitive eating and gestational diabetes.
Upcoming Virtual Gestational Diabetes Support Group
To provide additional support during the holiday season, I’m excited to announce an upcoming virtual gestational diabetes support group. This community will offer a safe space to share experiences, gain expert advice, and connect with others facing similar challenges. Join us for this virtual group that will meet weekly for 4 weeks!
As we embark on this holiday season, let’s remember that nurturing our bodies and minds is a gift to ourselves and our growing babies. By approaching gestational diabetes with an intuitive mindset, we can create lasting memories while prioritizing our health and our peace. Cheers to a season filled with love, laughter, and the joy of anticipating a new addition to the family!