7 Diabetes-Friendly Holiday Foods That Won’t Steal Your Joy

Family All Together At holiday DinnerThe holiday season should be a joyous time of the year. However, for those with diabetes who want to continue eating healthfully, it can sometimes be a time of trepidation.

Baking cookies for family and friends, Auntie Kay’s silky smooth red velvet cake, or granddaddy’s “gotta have it” cornbread stuffing with sausage can throw even the most faithful healthy eaters off track.

But sticking to a healthful lifestyle doesn’t have to mean deprivation—not if you take the right approach. As a diabetes educator and Registered Dietitian, that’s the message I give to my clients during the holidays. After all, depriving yourself of special holiday foods or feeling guilty after eating them isn’t part of a healthful eating strategy.

This year, rather than battling with all the dos and don’ts, I encourage you to focus on relaxing and accentuating the positive health aspects of the ingredients that everyone enjoys during the holidays. Apples, cranberries, pumpkin, pecans, cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes, and yogurt can be the secret to healthy eating this season. Below are health benefits and tips specific to each of these tasty treats.

red and green apples


Health Bonus

Apples are chock-full of disease-fighting antioxidants and are a good source of fiber and potassium. It’s best to eat apples whole, rather than in other forms, like apple juice. Whole apples are richer in dietary fiber than juice, and the juicing process drastically reduces the amount of antioxidants found in the whole fruit.

Holiday Tips

  • Cut calories by making baked apples. To keep the festive spirit, stuff the baked apples with a few cranberries and top with a dollop of whipped cream.
  • Instead of eating apple pie, save calories and carbs with an apple pie parfait. This nutrient-dense recipe features my favorite ingredient—yogurt.
  • In addition to fruit, yogurt also pairs well with other nutrient-dense foods, including vegetables and whole grains.

Click here for the Apple Pie Parfait recipe.