December 4, 2023

If you have diabetes, it can be difficult around the holidays to manage your blood sugar. It is possible though. Let’s talk about some tips to make healthy choices during the holidays.

Plan ahead. Often, holiday meals are at odd times, such as the middle of the afternoon, which means you’re probably going to be hungry leading up to the main meal. Do not skip meals. Continue to practice consistent carbohydrate intake for better blood sugar control. Try to have a snack close to your normal mealtime, so you don’t overeat. Eat non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots for a snack. You could also consider cooking your favorite veggies in a new way!

Another way to avoid overeating is to eat slowly and savor your food. Prioritize enjoying moments with family and friends! Savoring food together can be a part of those special moments.

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Be selective. You don’t have to sample all the foods prepared. Be selective and pick out your favorite foods and have appropriate or smaller portions.

Substitute the sugar. Pick a few favorite holiday recipes and leave out the sugar. Try sugar substitutes such as stevia. See a few recipes below for inspiration!

Stay hydrated. Make sure to drink plenty of water. Limit sugary alcoholic drinks. These drinks tend to be higher in sugar and can also contribute to dehydration if you aren’t careful. Opt for a mixed drink with a sugar-free or diet mixer. Eat a small snack if your stomach is empty to avoid low blood sugar. The recommendation is not to exceed one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

Move your body. Exercise can get put on the back burner during the holidays. Make it a priority by planning to go on a walk with your family and friends after the main meal. Gather everyone together for a game of flag football or throw the Frisbee.

Lastly, remember to check your blood sugar regularly as recommended by your doctor. Managing diabetes can be difficult, but MUSC Health – Endocrinology is available for your diabetes care needs. Dr. Ribal Al Aridi is a board-certified endocrinologist specializing in diabetes. Dr. Al Aridi and registered dietitian Anna Rhoads are happy to help you at MUSC Health Florence Medical Center. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 843-679-4221, or visit

The Best Sweet Potato Casserole

Adapted from the Food Network, substituting brown sugar with sugar substitute

½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering the baking dish

3 to 4 large, sweet potatoes (about 1 ¾ pounds), peeled and cubed

¼ cup Splenda, Stevia, Granulated Sweetener, or another equivalent

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup Splenda, Stevia, Granulated Sweetener, or another equivalent

½ stick (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

For the sweet potatoes: Add 1¾ pounds peeled and cubed sweet potatoes to a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain and cool, then mash them.

For the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.

Whisk together the butter, mashed sweet potatoes, milk, Splenda or Stevia, vanilla, salt, and eggs in a large bowl. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

For the topping: Combine the flour, Splenda or Stevia, butter, and salt in a medium bowl until moist and the mixture clumps together. Stir in the chopped pecans. Spread the mixture over the top of the sweet potatoes in an even layer. Bake until mostly set in the center and golden on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Nutrition Facts (per serving) 1 of 8 servings: Calories 291; Total Fat 21 grams; Saturated Fat 9 grams; Cholesterol 79 mg; Sodium 240 mg; Total Carbohydrates 23 grams; Dietary Fiber 3 grams; Sugar 4 grams; Protein 5 grams

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¹⁄³ cup low-fat buttermilk

1 head, cauliflower (separated into small florets, discard core and stem)

5 cloves of garlic (peeled and left whole)

1 russet or baking potato (peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes)

2 tsp butter (unsalted butter)

2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (grated)

In a large saucepan, place the potato, garlic, cauliflower and enough water to cover. Bring to boiling, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the potato and cauliflower are tender, about 15 minutes.

Drain and add the vegetables and garlic back to the pot. Cover the pot with a kitchen towel and put the lid over the towel. Let stand for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and towel. This process helps to dry the vegetables so they mash better.

Add the buttermilk, cheese, olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper. Mash until the ingredients are lightly combined. If you desire, garnish with fresh snipped chives.

Nutrition Facts (per serving: ½ cup) 10 total servings: Calories 60; Total Fat 2 grams; Saturated Fat 0.9 grams; Cholesterol 5 mg; Sodium 230 mg; Total Carbohydrates 7 grams; Dietary Fiber 2 grams; Total Sugars 2 grams; Protein 2 grams; Choices/Exchanges: 1 Nonstarchy vegetable, ½ Fat

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1 cup or equivalent Splenda Granulated Sweetener

3 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)

1 medium-sized orange (peeled and sectioned)

In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch, Splenda® sweetener, and water over medium-high heat, stirring until granules are dissolved.

Add fruit and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes until cranberries begin to pop and mixture has thickened. Set aside to cool.

Pour into a bowl and refrigerate for 3 hours.

Nutrition Facts (per serving: 2 Tbsp) 12 total servings: Calories 20; Total Fat 0 grams; Saturated Fat 0 grams; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Total Carbohydrates 6 grams; Dietary Fiber 1 gram; Total Sugars 0 grams; Protein 0 grams; Choices/Exchanges: ½ Fruit


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