The 10 Best Thanksgiving Tips to Hit Your Plate

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Note: This article is part of our library of resources for Celebrations & Holidays. Check out our food and drinking tips as well as array of holiday carb charts here

Type 1 Thanksgiving Tips

BOLUS — gobble, gobble. It’s here, that holiday — more than any other — that revolves around eating. And while being Type 1 means there may be more bells and whistles in the whole chow down, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the full extent of our native feathered friend, (or any of the other carb-laden sides). I mean, this is the food of the soft-toothed, you hardly have to
even chew. All you have to do is remember to give insulin accordingly.

Now if you’re cooking at home, you know how to find the carb counts ahead of time, (carb chart HERE) so you can calculate the appropriate amount of insulin. But what if you’re traveling to that distant in-law’s place where “Type 1” is one of many versions of how you apply gravy to your plate and the recipe is something of a fifth-generation secret (no carb count, no ingredient list)? Don’t worry. Here are the 10 Thanksgiving Tips to make your holiday go — dare we say — as smooth as gravy.

Talk to your host

Don’t be afraid to tell the host prior to the event that you are Type 1 and see if he or she has recipes available for you ahead of time, so you know the menu and can count carbs. A well-meaning host may offer to provide a special/separate meal, which affords a nice opportunity to raise awareness that people with Type 1 can eat anything-they just need to account for the carbs.

Offer to bring something

This my be helpful for both you and your host. You’ll know there’s at least one dish with no carb surprises and you’ll also be contributing to the gathering, (without asking her or him to prepare something especially for you).

Pack measuring cups

Exact measurements help ensure that you’re dosing insulin correctly. This could also be a visual cue to others that opens up the discussion on Type 1 and helps to educate others.

Bring this Carb Count Chart

It’s printable and mobile-friendly or use a carb counting app or website. You can’t cover what you haven’t counted-so from cocktails to pie we’ve got your number.


Choose your carb

Of course you can eat carbs, but know their sugar weight. Keep in mind that these starch sides can vary greatly in carb count. 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes is 15 g of carbs whereas 1/2 cup of candied yams is a whopping 45 grams. That’s a big difference!

The low carb-ies

Vegetables and high-protein options such as meat won’t require as much insulin and will therefore be less likely to result in a high blood sugar. You could also consider sugar-free dessert options to limit the amount of insulin you need to take. And if one more person asks you if you’re dieting, you can politely explain it isn’t a calorie issue; it’s all about the carbs.

Walk it off

Incorporating a brisk walk into the afternoon could help lower BGLs with all that sugar intake. Be sure to only exercise within the limits prescribed by your health care professional though.

Consider time

Because thanksgiving meal times may vary from your typical eating routine, be sure to keep a close eye on your blood sugar levels and always have emergency sugar on you in the chance that you go low.

No surprises

Watch out for hidden carbs (or gluten). You know those inconspicuous glazes — what was once a vegetable could turn into what is now a sugar soup. Or the fried crumble toppings that can be heavy sugar weights.

Celiac considerations

Similar to letting your host know that you’re Type 1, if you have Celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, you should not hesitate to let your host know. Many are unaware of what gluten actually is (it is the general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye and barley), so be sure to explain that grain items such as oats, barley and your run-of-the-mill flour contain gluten. Rice and corn are gluten-free options. Remember that even small doses of flour in gravies and soups can cause an adverse reaction.


For a Thanksgiving read,  teenager Courtney Gale shares “Dancing in the Macy’s Day Parade