Advance with MUSC Health

It is Possible to Manage Your Blood Sugar During the Holidays

Advance With MUSC Health
November 22, 2022
Person with plate of food in front of them holding a knife and fork.

By: Anna Rhoads, MS, RD, LD

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 help you 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.

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 – Diabetes Services 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

Here are some blood-sugar friendly recipes for you to check out:

The Best Sweet Potato Casserole

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



1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering the baking dish
3 to 4 large, sweet potatoes (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled and cubed
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup Splenda, Stevia, Granulated Sweetener, or another equivalent
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Splenda, Stevia, Granulated Sweetener, or another equivalent
1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans


  • For the sweet potatoes: Add 1 3/4 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 to 20 minutes. Drain and cool, then mash them.

  • For the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a two-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 

Better Mashed Potatoes

Adapted from


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)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp butter (unsalted butter)
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (grated)
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp black pepper


  • 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 five 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)

10 total servings Serving size:
½ cup
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,1/2 Fat

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Adapted from


1 tsp Cornstarch
1 cup or equivalent Splenda® Granulated Sweetener
½ cup Water
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 five minutes until cranberries begin to pop and mixture has thickened. Set aside to cool.

  • Pour into a bowl and refrigerate for three hours.

  • Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

12 total servings Serving size:
2 Tbsp
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