My First Thanksgiving with Diabetes

CGM graph showing high blood glucose after dinner and low reading at night

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This feels like my first Thanksgiving with diabetes, but it’s actually my 5th or 6th.  I don’t remember when I was officially diagnosed.

I think the reason it feels like a first, is that it’s my first Thanksgiving with a continuous glucose meter (CGM) which makes me much more aware of my blood sugar levels.  I’m also using insulin much more frequently than I used to, so I’m much more aware of my diabetes throughout the day.

A Little Thanksgiving Morning Research

I dose insulin based on how many carbs I eat.  Traditional thanksgiving food items have a lot of carbohydrates in them… For example, yams, mashed potatoes, and rolls all are full of carbs.  Of course pie for desert is a big deal too.  Pumpkin pie and apple pie. So many delicious foods, but full of carbs, which for us with diabetes, that means higher blood glucose levels….

Thanksgiving morning, I found this helpful image on Twitter, which lists the common Thanksgiving menu items and how many carbs are in a server.

It lists out common Thanksgiving food and the number of carbohydrates in each one.  I decided to avoid the candied yams because they are very high in carbs.

Here’s what happened

CGM Graph for Thanksgiving Day
This is a graph of my blood glucose on Thanksgiving day. The data is from a Freestyle Libre 14 day sensor and is visualized using the Tidepool website

I tried to not eat too many carbs for dinner (I took an extra serving of Turkey which is full of protein and no carbs.)  And I tried to dose enough insulin to cover the meal.  I didn’t get it quite right, but I also didn’t get it too horribly wrong.  My glucose was out of the target range for several hours after dinner, though.

A big up, and then a crash…

However, what happened that night was that I got low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) at midnight!  We were staying in a hotel and I ate a low-carb snack before bed.  Apparently, this low-carb snack was too low carb and my glucose declined throughout the night.  In the middle of the night, I woke up and went to the bathroom and then realized that I felt a little strange.  I check my Freestyle Libre reader and it displayed the “Low Blood Glucose” warning.  I ate some glucose tabs and then when I didn’t see it rise right away, I drank half of a juice box.  I started to feel better and fell back to sleep.  (TIP: Keep juice or candy next to your bed!)

This was my first hypoglycemia event at nighttime.  I think it was mainly caused by irregularly timed meals.

Unfortunately, a side effect of this experience is that I’ve become more afraid of having low blood glucose, and last night I ate too much before bed, and had really high glucose in the middle of the night 🙁

I don’t like diabetes.

Related Articles from around the Web

Thanksgiving with Type 1 Diabetes: 3 Blood Sugar Management Tips – Although aimed at people with Type 1 Diabetes, if you are using insulin to treat your diabetes, then the tips here are helpful for planning for Thanksgiving holiday.

The Best Keto-Friendly Thanksgiving Sides – If you are planning the Thanksgiving meal, you can substitute low carbohydrate options instead of staying with traditional dinner fare.  The “keto” diet is trendy lately and it a low carb diet, so it’s a good keyword to use when searching for low carb options.  Here’s an article from Food Network with some ideas for side dishes.

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower Recipe – This is the most popular low carb alternative to mashed potatoes.  Not the same, but tasty and good for your blood glucose numbers!  Plus Cauliflower has is a cruciferous vegetable which may help prevent cancer.  Crazy, right?!

Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner Tips for People With Diabetes – This page has a list of foods to avoid and foods to enjoy, as well as tips for enjoying the meal.

How to Cook for a Diabetic at Thanksgiving – great ideas here too!

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