Andrew Akhaphong is a registered dietitian, precision nutrition sports coach and an ACTION certified personal trainer for Walker Methodist Health Center. He is a native of Farmington. He can be reached at or 612-827-8354.

November is National Diabetes Month. With the holidays approaching, managing blood sugars and weight may be a struggle. With the extravagant meals and decadent desserts, holidays are known to be high in carbohydrates and added fat. With proper planning you can make mindful choices that fit into your meal plan.

Focus on protein

Protein helps build muscle tissue, strengthen our bones, and aid in wound healing. It also makes us feel fuller and skimp less on the carbohydrates. Because protein does not contain any carbohydrates it is okay to eat extra portions. If the protein is prepared with added sugars such as a maple glazed ham roast, maybe be cautious about the portion sizes as the maple may spike blood sugars. If there is noticeable fat on the meat or there it is skin-on, opt to trim them off instead for a heart-healthy item and to assist in weight management.

Watch your alcohol

Alcoholic beverages contain carbohydrates, but may have unwanted impacts on your insulin and medications such as metformin or glipizide. Alcohol may increase your body's response to insulin and medications resulting in low blood sugars. Be mindful and try to limit your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks. If you choose to have more, remember to test your blood sugars for any lows.

Enjoy your dessert

Bring a dessert you are able to enjoy that is diabetic-friendly as this will provide reassurance that your blood sugars will be managed well. If you are not able to or there is not a diabetic-friendly dessert available, opt for a smaller serving of crisp or slice of pie and share with somebody. Some individuals follow the "three-bite" rule for eating desserts. Having three bites alone may help satisfy those sweet cravings without endangering blood sugars.

Stay on top of starches

Starches like roasted red potatoes with the skin on are more likely to not spike blood sugars as much compared to mashed potatoes that are peeled. Be mindful of your portion sizes and try to fill up on high-fiber foods instead. Fiber - found in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains - helps maintain weight, heart health, and regularity. Fiber also reduces the absorption of digested sugars from food and reduces the likelihood of blood sugar spikes. If you feel you are not able to eat enough fiber, try a fiber supplement like Metamucil or Citrucel - always consult your doctor or pharmacist if this is OK for you.