Bite-sized pastries are shown with blueberries on top.
Bite-sized pastries and pies are a great way to keep portions under control. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

For those with diabetes, the season of joy can be truly overwhelming.

Even those who typically follow healthy habits can find themselves inundated by the sweets and goodies as the calendar changes to December. It seems to bring out the inner Betty Crocker in friends and family. Everyone is soon surrounded by goodies in the workplace, sweets at family gatherings and treats at parties.

Amid all this, how can you support friends and family members who have diabetes?

First and foremost, people with diabetes typically feel singled out during the holidays, especially when well-meaning family and friends remind them they “shouldn’t” eat this or that. How frustrating would that be to hear from someone who’s eating a large piece of cake?

Just remember—no particular food is off limits to someone with diabetes. Portion control is the key, much as it is for all of us.

You can show support by following these simple tips:

Think small portions

Cut sweets into smaller portions. Instead of cutting the pie into six slices, cut it into 12. Place smaller serving tools in the dishes to make it easier to dole out smaller portions. Then use small plates and cups to encourage smaller portions all around.

Bring the fruit

When hosting or attending parties, be the person who brings a healthy item. Fruit and vegetable platters are always great choices. A vegetable platter made with red, green and orange bell peppers is a festive creation. Add some reduced-fat dip and voila—you’ve got a safe choice for the person with diabetes.

Don’t forget low-cal beverages

Always include some low-calorie or calorie-free beverages. If you’re serving punch, be sure to offer diet pop or, better yet, have some lemon slices available for water or unsweetened iced tea.

The bottom line is that those with diabetes don’t have to consume foods that are significantly different from the rest of us. They just have to control their portions—and you can help make it easier for them.