The holidays present a full season of temptation for anyone, let alone someone managing diabetes. Dr. Asghar Naqvi, primary care physician at Ochsner Health Center – Zachary, offers nine tips for a healthy holiday season while still enjoying delicious holiday food favorites.

Keep regular mealtimes

Eat balanced meals before attending holiday parties. If you skip meals in an effort to “save up” calories, you will probably end up overeating foods that are higher in fat and sugar.

Minimize temptation

Visit with family and friends away from the buffet table. Enjoy fun and conversation while avoiding mindless munching. Also, put holiday treats away after you serve them — “out of sight, out of mind.”

Be a picky eater

Do not deprive yourself but be choosy and remember moderation. Sample new dishes or indulge in old holiday favorites, but pass on the chips, dip and fried food. Fresh vegetable and fruit trays and crackers are winning choices.

Listen to your hunger

Serve yourself reasonable portions and eat slowly to give your body a chance to feel full. You may realize you are satisfied without getting seconds.

Go easy on eggnog and alcohol

Alcohol contains lots of calories and few nutrients. If you choose to drink, alternate alcoholic beverages with water or diet sodas.

Stay active

Exercise helps burn off extra calories, as well as reduce holiday stress. Spending time being active with family and friends can be as enjoyable as a holiday meal.

Manage stress

For many people, holidays are the most stressful time of the year. Buy gifts and prepare dishes ahead of time to avoid a last-minute rush. If you are a host, solicit help from others. Finally, get plenty of rest to boost your energy level, so you won’t mistake fatigue for hunger.

Give yourself a break

Realize that one big holiday meal or one missed exercise session will not have a major effect on your weight. It is what you eat consistently over time that matters. Progress, not perfection is what counts. Forgive yourself and get back on track.

Recipe Substitutions

Try to use heart-healthy cookbooks and experiment with lower fat versions of traditional recipes to create delicious dishes that are healthy too. Use the following substitutions as a guide:

  • Instead of whole milk, use skim milk or nonfat milk powder
  • Replace light cream with equal portions 1 percent milk and evaporated milk
  • Instead of heavy cream, use very cold evaporated skim milk
  • Instead of nondairy creamer, use nonfat powdered milk
  • Replace an egg with two egg whites or ¼-cup egg substitute
  • Instead of sour cream, use fat-free sour cream or plain nonfat yogurt
  • Replace butter or margarine with light margarine
  • Instead of roux, brown flour without fat in oven at 350° in cast iron skillet
  • Instead of baking chocolate, use 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • Instead of cream cheese, use fat-free or light cream cheese
  • Mayonnaise can be replaced with fat-free mayo or plain Greek yogurt
  • Instead of ground beef, brown lean ground beef, drain and rinse with hot running water

For information on Ochsner Baton Rouge diabetes management programs or to make an appointment with an Ochsner provider, call (225) 761-5200 or make an appointment online at