Do I need to eat low carb on Thanksgiving?

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Is a low carb Thanksgiving necessary? Well that’s a great question. My first thought is, what does low carb mean to you? To us, low carb means dishes that are lower in carbohydrate (“carb”) to keep blood sugar stable. This does not mean no carb! When we discuss blood sugar management, we often recommend somewhere between 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per meal, depending on the person!

The holidays can be a difficult time for someone with diabetes since there is a lot more focus on food, and a plethora of food all around you. So a LOWER carb meal (compared to a traditional Thanksgiving feast) can help keep blood sugar more controlled.

We are here to help! Whether you are cooking for masses or just for yourself, we have put together a start to finish diabetes friendly meal for the holidays! What else can you do to help manage your blood sugar this Thanksgiving? Check out our 8 tips to managing your Diabetes!

diabetes friendly thanksgiving

Start with the Low Carb Thanksgiving Apps

First, every good dinner party starts with cheese! What could be better than a cheese ball shaped like a pumpkin? It’s totes adorbs and festive! With heart health in mind, I made this low carb Thanksgiving appetizer with Greek yogurt cream cheese! Never heard of it? It can be found right next to the cream cheese at your local grocery store! It has more protein and less saturated fat than traditional cream cheese. Serve the cheese ball with high fiber crackers (like Triscuits*), apple slices, and raw veggies like bell pepper strips.

diabetes cheese ball

The Main Course, Per Usual

Next on the list we have the main course. Lucky for us turkey is a great protein source. The protein helps to keep blood sugar more stable and is loaded with b vitamins. Protein also helps keep you satiated until your next meal or snack!  Check out this air fried turkey recipe! If you’ve been considering buying an air fryer*, let me tell you, it’s worth it! We love our air fryer, for more than just turkey (air fried french fries, breaded chicken or fish for sandwiches, brussels, falafel…it’s so fast and gives your food a great crunch!).

Low Carb Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Every good Holiday meal comes with an abundance of sides to pick from. We have come up with four diabetes-friendly side dishes for a low carb Thanksgiving feast.

Above all, everyone seems to love an ooey-gooey sweet potato casserole, but it can have a large amount of sugar in there. Instead, try out Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes! The pecans offer a great sweet crunch while also adding in heart healthy fats.

twice baked potato

Our personal twist on green bean casserole, these crispy green beans give you great flavor for great heart health!

low carb thanksgiving

Also, a staple for every Thanksgiving meal, stuffing. But stuffing is bread and bread contains carbs and can raise your blood sugar if eaten in large amounts or not balanced out! What is one to do? Well our stuffing is crafted for diabetes management, with heart health also in mind. We use turkey sausage to reduce saturated fat and add in pine nuts to incorporate healthy fats. We also utilize a “low carb” bread like Schmidt 6-4-7 to reduce the total carbohydrate of the dish.

diabetes stuffing

Last but certainly not least, more veggies! Because in my opinion, you can’t have too many veggies on the table. Thanksgiving comes with an abundance of starches. But come prepared with delicious and enticing veggies to help fill your plate! Roasted Brussels sprouts are nothing new, but topped with crunchy pistachios and a fresh pop of pomegranate makes this side dish quite the crowd pleaser!

thanksgiving low carb diabetes

Any Low Carb Thanksgiving Condiments?

Can’t forget the cranberry sauce! Typical cranberry sauce is made with refined sugar and usually a little fruit juice. I made mine using dates for sweetness. Does this still contain sugar? Yes. And most of the carbohydrate in this cranberry sauce is still sugar. But the dates* add a little fiber and micronutrients, like potassium, as well as antioxidants! You may need to use this sparingly, but if you’re a cranberry fan, this one’s for you! However, I can’t help you if you’re on team jellied cranberry sauce, right out of the can. My husband is all about it, but I’m not about that life.

diabetes thanksgiving

Don’t Forget Dessert!

Finally it is time for dessert! Pumpkin pie is an all-time classic at any holiday dinner. To help manage diabetes we’ve created a reduced sugar pumpkin pie! Tried and tested, it tastes ju great– all the more reason to try this healthy version out! It also has an almond flour* crust to increase fiber!


And there you have it! A low carb, diabetes friendly Thanksgiving meal, from start to finish!

Watch registered dietitian Kaitlin whip up some delicious low carb diabetes-friendly Thanksgiving side dishes in this video below.

YouTube video

Would you like help meal planning for the holidays, while still working towards reaching your nutrition goals? Make an appointment with one of our dietitians by calling 301-474-2499 or clicking here

For more Diabetes-friendly meal ideas, check out our Cooking with Diabetes Cookbook!

Cooking with Diabetes

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Blog reviewed and updated November 2022

An award winning recipe developer, Dietitian Kaitlin’s mission is to empower others to reach their health goals by encouraging them to get back into the kitchen. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Diabetes.