Five tips for better diabetic eating

I had an appointment with my endocrinologist (diabetes specialist) on Friday. We discussed several different options in terms of changing my medications to try to get a better handle on my diabetes, but ultimately the best thing I can do is eat less, of better quality foods. I wish this was something that came easily to me.

Image by Atila Yumusakkaya on Flickr

The basic rules for healthy eating when you are diabetic are not really so different from those that apply to everyone. In a nutshell, here are the top five tips for better diabetic eating (with help from the American Diabetes Association’s website):

  1. Eat a good variety of foods. Include vegetables, fruit, whole grains, non-fat dairy products, healthy fats, and lean meats. Notice that candy, cookies, and white rice are not on the list? <Deep sigh.> The variety of food you eat is important not only because it keeps you from being bored with your meals but also so that you can get most of your necessary vitamins and minerals from what you eat instead of having to take a supplement.
  2. Don’t eat too much at one sitting or too much of any one type of food. For instance, binging on Girl Scout cookies is discouraged. Smaller portions are important because your body won’t have to work as hard if it only has to digest a small amount of food at a sitting rather than an enormous meal.
  3. Space your meals out throughout the day and don’t skip meals. Ideally you would eat reasonably sized meals every four hours so that your blood sugar never gets low. (Low blood sugar can make you ravenously hungry and less apt to make good food choices. See the bit about not binging on GS cookies in point #2 above.)
  4. Eat fish with your meals 2-3 times per week. Why does everyone keep talking about eating fish? It’s a lean protein option, with very little saturated fat. It’s also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol and triglycerides and might even lower your risk of certain types of cancer.
  5. Get your five daily servings of fruit and vegetables. For best glycemic control (defined as the measurement of how well your blood sugar is being managed), limit the amount of starchy vegetables – like potatoes, corn, peas, and winter squash, and choose fruit with lower glycemic index values like cantaloupe, apples, apricots, and plums. Again, a good variety of fruit and vegetable choices is important to make sure you’re getting the best nutritional bang for your (grocery) buck.

Of course, it’s one thing to know what to do and another thing entirely to make sure that you do it. I asked my endocrinologist for a referral to a nutritionist for help in putting together simple yet inviting meal plans for my whole family so that I can – gasp! – start eating mostly at home. While it’s certainly possible to eat well while eating out, it’s sure a lot easier when you prepare everything yourself so you know what’s going in the pot!

How do you make sure that you and your family are eating well and getting the nutrition you need? Any time and/or money saving tips you’d like to share?

Aftermath

It’s been a crazy few months. Travel. (Fun.) Holidays. (Mostly fun.) New volunteer opportunities. (Exhilarating, exhausting, and fun.) Making changes around here. (Fun. Scary, but fun.)

In the midst of all of that fun, it was also our busy season at work, which is not always fun but it’s required and I work with amazingly talented, dedicated people, so it’s not so bad. For better or worse, that part of our work year ended Tuesday night and now we’re all sort of hungover and want to find a dark, quiet place to nap. Once upon a time, a very LOOONG time ago, we would take at least a month off from doing anything significant, to recover from the insanity, but that practice is long gone and instead we’re jumping into next year’s development efforts with vigor. It’s a good thing because it’s how we stay on top of our games, but a day or two of rest wouldn’t go amiss.

I bring this up because I got a bit sidetracked – OK, it was more like a complete derailment – from Project HealthFirst, the healthy eating initiative intended to improve my diabetes outcomes. The backsliding must stop now and renewed focus and energy will be applied in the coming days to ensure I’m back on track as quickly with my health as I am with my work commitment. I wouldn’t slack off there and I can’t slack off when it comes to avoiding a heart attack or stroke due to high blood sugar!

With Mummy and Daddy

I share this picture of me with my mum and dad earlier this month because it’s a reminder for me of what’s really important: friends, family, love, life. None of those things will be possible without my health, so it’s simply got to be a commitment for me  there are no other good options.