There’s a good chance someone in your family or friend group has diabetes. In fact, the CDC reported in 2017 that 9% of the population had some form of diabetes, either type one or type two, and one in three adults had prediabetes.

This means that there’s a possibility that someone at your table will be enjoying holiday meals with their blood sugar numbers in mind. This time of year can be stressful for people with diabetes because most holiday dishes are packed with sugar, which causes blood glucose levels to rise.

Those of us with loved ones who have diabetes may be wondering how we can be supportive during the holidays. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Understand Carbs

Many diabetics may feel like their life revolves around counting carbs. Your first thought may be to cut all carbs out of your holiday meal – but don’t. Carbs have a bad reputation, but not all carbs are created equally.

There are three types of carbs: starches, sugars and fiber. Carbs from fiber, which include beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains, are actually necessary for maintaining level blood sugars and can even lower blood sugar, according to the American Diabetes Association. So, pack your dishes full of those healthy, vitamin-rich carbs, and avoid sugars and starches.

2. Don’t Food Shame

Diabetes often comes with feelings of isolation and food-related anxiety. The American Diabetes Association recommends avoiding comments like, “You shouldn’t be eating that,” and “If you eat better, you won’t have to take so many medications.” Even if you have the best intentions, this advice can lead to confusion, anxiety and shame.

3. Make Healthy Choices in Every Dish

If you have a person in the family who was recently diagnosed with diabetes, take the opportunity to change the way the whole family eats.

A “diabetes-friendly” meal is not necessarily low-carb, but it is one that prioritizes whole foods, which should be prioritized in every person’s diet, regardless of health status.

To avoid making people with diabetes at your dining room table feel “othered,” don’t prepare a separate meal for them. Try to make the entire meal diabetes-friendly. Go for foods with balanced carbs, proteins and fats.

Check out for tasty recipes geared toward people with diabetes that you can serve the whole family.

As you prepare for your next holiday meal, remember that there is no catch-all diet for diabetes. Everyone’s body responds differently to different foods. The best thing to do is ask your family members with diabetes what they would like you to do or how you can best help them. They know what they need, and will appreciate your consideration of their health.

Diabetes-Friendly Mini Pumpkin Tarts
From the American Diabetes Association


• 8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
• 30 Mini Nilla Wafer cookies
• 1/4 cup light sour cream
• 1/4 cup Splenda sugar blend
• 1 egg
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 pinch ground nutmeg


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line mini-muffin pan with paper baking cups and place one Nilla wafer in the bottom of each cup.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, add remaining ingredients and mix with an electric mixer until smooth.
4. Fill each muffin cup with mixture.
5. Place muffin pan in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until done. Serve cool.

Lubna Maruf, M.D., medical director at QualChoice Health Insurance, is a graduate of Aga Khan Medical University in Pakistan and completed her residency at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, affiliated with the University of Illinois at Chicago.

She has over 20 years of experience in internal medicine and health care administration.