What do you feed a diabetic on Thanksgiving?

On the day before Thanksgiving, two years ago, our then-11-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. We spent Thanksgiving in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, feasting on a “care package” turkey dinner delivered by friends.

Thanksgiving Turkey cooked by Joanna 2014
Copyright 2014 Joanna Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

Last year we had a small family dinner at home, though the turkey was super-size as always (leftover turkey is never a bad thing!) But this year, we’ll be driving over the river and through the woods and up the New Jersey Turnpike to feast with family at my sister’s house, where the hospitality is legendary and involves neverending food.

My son is thrilled to be back in the Thanksgiving-dinner-eating saddle, but last week I got that phone call from my sister: “What do you need for TheKid?”

Nothing special, really, other than access to package labels.

I’m very grateful that she took the time to ask. We’ve attended other parties where people don’t bother to do that, and then when we request a label, they’ve already thrown it out.

So what do we need for him? She’s already provided it, by showing she cares.

Type 1 Diabetics can eat Thanksgiving dinner–especially if they’re like TheKid and plan a meal packed with low-fat protein. He’s all about having as much turkey as he can manage. He’s not into green-bean casserole (though if there are plain green beans, he’ll eat those). Mashed potatoes? That’s a yes, and an easy one–he’ll just need to measure his portion. As he prefers his vegetables raw, he’ll munch on carrots, celery sticks and red bell peppers without too much glycemic impact.

oreo choc chip cookiesMy sister and I did conclude that it would be a good idea if I bring along a dessert this year–one TheKid likes to eat. This way we know what we’ll be dealing with for that portion of the meal. I have the feeling he’s going to ask me to make Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies. And if that’s the case, he can help me bake them.

The after-dinner walk with Grandpa and his cousins (along with the pre-dinner backyard football game) will help him balance out his Thanksgiving feast with healthy activity.

It will be a happy Thanksgiving indeed when we learn that there’s a cure for Type 1 Diabetes, or (even better) a way to prevent it. Until then, we will continue to be grateful for hostesses like my sister, who not only serves a delicious family meal, but takes the time to make sure TheKid’s health concerns are addressed.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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