Cut-out cookies. Candy canes. Hot cocoa. For the next month, houses will be filled with delicious treats that will satisfy any Christmas craving. But for children with diabetes, it can mean feeling excluded from some of the sweeter holiday traditions.
Certified diabetes educator Janet Haas, a nurse program coordinator at Akron Children’s Endocrinology and Diabetes Center, said it’s a challenge to maintain blood sugar levels this time of year.
“It’s harder to manage their diabetes over the holidays because there are more temptations,” said Haas. “You want them to feel a part of the holidays, so they need to have treats and the occasional fun foods that go with meals.”
She offers these 5 strategies for parents:
- Portion control – Fill up your child’s plate with vegetables to make it appear fuller. If your child loves to go back for seconds, use smaller portions the first time around. Avoid foods that contain a lot of starch, such as potatoes, and instead fill up on meat, which doesn’t contain a lot of carbs. White meat, skinless turkey is the healthiest option.
- Don’t skip meals – Even if you’re planning a late lunch, don’t let your child skip breakfast or lunch. Giving them small meals throughout the day will prevent them from arriving to the table feeling ravenous.
- Make your own dish – If your child has a school party or family potluck to go to, offer to bring a dish. Prepare a healthy option that you know your child will like.
- Stay active – After a big meal, don’t let your child head straight to the TV or computer. Instead, head outside for a family walk or game of football. If it’s snowing out, go sled riding. Exercising after a meal will help to naturally lower blood sugar.
- Substitute sugar – For dessert, Haas recommends a small piece of pie or cake without the frosting. But if you’re planning on doing a lot of holiday baking, find lighter recipes that use sugar substitutes.
Encourage your kids to participate in family activities, including baking cookies. Here are two diabetes-friendly recipes for you to make with your child:
Rolled Sugar Cookies
½ cup margarine
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Cream together the margarine, sugar, vanilla, and egg until light and fluffy. Add the flour and baking powder. Blend until well mixed. Chill the dough for 2 hours or overnight. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut with a cookie cutter. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven until lightly browned about 10 minutes. Cool before storing. Makes 72 cookies.
You can paint the cookies before baking: 1 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon water, a few drops of food coloring (Color brightens as cookies bake.)
Nutrition Information (per serving size: 2 cookies)
Merry Gingerbread Cookies*
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup molasses
3 tablespoons water
Blend together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices in a large mixing bowl. Cream butter, SPLENDA ® Granulated and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the molasses ad water. Stir well. Add the flour mixture and stir until well blended. Refrigerate dough 1-2 hours before rolling out and cutting into shapes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll cookie dough out slightly less than ¼ inch. Cut into desired shapes. Bake in preheated oven 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom.
Nutrition Information (per serving size: 1 cookie):
35 calories from Fat
4g (2g sat) Fat
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
*Submitted by: Makers of SPLENDA ®Sweetener Products