Diabetes: Eating Right (Part 2)
Last time we talked about avoiding “white foods”, like potatoes, rice and bread. We know our bodies need some carbs, but as diabetics we have to limit our portion sizes and how often we eat them. In this post, we are going to talk more about eating right.
As a diabetic, eating right means changing the way you think about both food and your current eating habits. One thing that really helps is actually eating more often. Instead of eating three meals a day, diabetics need to eat five to six times a day. By eating smaller portions more often, it is easier for your body to regulate your blood sugar. An easy way to do this is to make sure you eat about every two to three hours. Skipping breakfast is NOT an option when you are diabetic. In fact, it is more important than ever that you have a good, nutritious breakfast. Your blood sugar will be very low after sleeping all night (this is one of the best times to test your blood sugar and see how you are doing). You need something to get you going, but not spike your blood sugar. And it’s easier than you think.
Just about everyone likes scrambles eggs. Try using just egg whites, or half egg whites and half regular eggs. Even egg substitutes will work. Scramble them up with any vegetables you like, maybe a little cheese with some bacon or sausage for protein. Tuck it into a tortilla and you have a delicious breakfast taco. The best thing about them is you can make the filling ahead of time and freeze it in single portions. When you are ready to eat, just zap it in the microwave and roll it up when it’s hot. You can even top it with salsa, which is pretty much a great condiment for diabetics since it is loaded with veggies and it tastes great on so many things.
If you have the time, try making a frittata. Just like making the scrambles eggs, but you don’t mix it up. Simply layer the veggies on top of the egg. The bottom will be cooked and the top slightly runny. Flip it over to cook the top, or finish it off in the oven. The great thing about these is that there will be usually enough for two people or meals. Put left overs in the fridge for the next day. (Hint: if you are making enough for more than one meal, be sure not to overcook. Eggs get rubbery when overcooked.)
If you are really rushed, have a bowl of cereal. Just don’t choose one that is loaded with sugar (marshmallows are a no-no). Instead, choose a high fiber cereal you can add fresh fruit to, like bananas, blueberries or strawberries. Any fruit will work and it will give you the sweetness you are looking for. But not too much fruit, since even they have natural sugars.
So, assuming you ate breakfast around eight when you first got to work, then you should have a snack about 10am. Good snacks for a diabetic are simple. A handful of assorted nuts, beef jerky, Vienna sausages, string cheese, or even some fresh veggies (which can be cut up and bagged the night before) all make quick and easy snacks. Another winner is popcorn (easy on the butter); fat-free is best, but even regular is ok as long as you don’t have too much. The American Diabetes Association has a list of homemade snacks that are quick and easy. Don’t have time to make your own, or don’t want to? Diabetic Living Online did a blind taste testing of the top 25 pre-packaged diabetic snacks. So, if you just want to grab and go, choose one of these. I will tell you to beware of snacks labeled low-fat. Just because it is low-fat, doesn’t mean it is low-carb; read the label. A little research can yield some delicious results!
Noon means its lunchtime. Not a problem. You can make something at home (like a wrap, salad, or last nights’ delicious diabetic dinner leftovers), or go out to eat. Need ideas of what to make for lunch? Everyday Health lists seven easy, diabetic-friendly lunches you can make yourself. And eating out can be just as straightforward as making your own food. Simply be aware of what and how much you are eating. Smaller portions, more vegetables, less starchy/high carb foods and you are good to go. As for drinks, try water or iced tea. Even a sugar free soda won’t hurt you once in a while. Again, moderation is key.
Somewhere between two and three, you should have another snack. Then have a healthy dinner about 6pm. It’s important that you try to eat at the same time each day to regulate your blood sugar, especially your main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). And you have to remember to test your blood sugar TWO HOURS after you eat, which, if you are following this schedule, should be right before each snack or meal. By then, your blood sugar should be back within normal ranges. If it is high, then you know that something you had in your last meal caused your blood sugar to spike and you should avoid it in the future. (We’ll talk more about monitoring later.)
These are just some general guidelines to follow. I’m not a doctor; I have just dealt with this for over a decade. Check with your doctor about your particular dietary needs. In fact, you should meet with a nutritionist when you are first diagnosed. If you didn’t, try to see one now. If that is not an option, then just do a bit of research on the internet. Find out how many calories and carbs you should be taking in each day. It might seem like a lot of work at first, but you will quickly find that you just “know” what foods are better for you. With perseverance, you can get your diabetes under control – for life.
Here’s a simple snack for you to try. Snacking is my favorite part of diabetic eating!
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