The onset of the holidays creates mixed feelings for individuals with health-related eating concerns.

Holiday gatherings inevitably offer irresistible temptations to avoid dietary guidelines - if only for one evening. Generous neighbors and friends deliver homemade wonders as a gesture of cheer.The American Diabetes Association, celebrating National Diabetes Awareness month, recognizes this concern with a cautionary statement, "Holiday celebrations and holiday eating are not mutually exclusive."

And Cynthia Overturf, a registered dietitian at Holy Cross Hospital's Diabetes Treatment Center, concurs.

"The holidays are the most difficult time for individuals on health-restricted diets. It's hard to say no to the seemingly endless spread of goodies."

According to Overturf and others, exciting alternatives exist.

The dietitian suggests three guidelines for holiday survival:

1. Modify recipes you know and love by reducing fats and sugars. Use less sugar and substitute sweet spices for flavor. Further information is available through the Diabetes Treatment Center at Holy Cross.

2. Try new recipes using sugar substitutes. (Cookbooks are available from manufacturers. Current collections include: Equal Delicious Recipes or Equal Fruitful Delites, $1.75 for both or $1.00 each, to Equal Recipes, P.O. Box 710252, El Paso, TX 885-71-0252. Questions may also be directed to a consumer response number, 1-800-323-5316.

3. With physician's permission, schedule a "pig out" day when you purposefully and carefully eat what you want.

Sheila Lukins and Julee Ross, authors of the Silver Palate and New Basics Cookbooks, developed a collection of holiday recipes titled, "Irresistible Desserts." The project was sponsored by Becton-Dickinson Consumer Products in conjunction with Nancy Cooper, a registered dietitian at the International Diabetes Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The free booklet is available by writing B-D Irresistible Desserts, P.O. Box 2512, Young American, MN 55399-2512.

For further information, contact the American Diabetes Association, 363-3024.