Being diabetic means making compromises when it comes to choosing your menu. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t eat well, you just have to be smart about what you put on your plate. Because, when blood sugar isn’t regulated it can result in some very negative effects, including, but not limited to, nerve damage, kidney disease, and even amputations. But, when we make a commitment to eat healthy and make smart food choices we can help prevent these things from happening.
Be Aware of “Secret Sources” of Sugar
Sugar, of course, plays a key role in diabetes. And while some sugar sources are obvious, others may not be so obvious. For example, many foods that appear to be healthy could contain more sugar than you realize. Make sure to read labels, because higher amounts of sugar could be lurking in unexpected foods such as: instant oatmeal, yogurt, tomato sauce, apple sauce, juice, condiments, and sports drinks, to name a few. Always be aware of what you’re consuming.
Carb Counting – Complex vs. Simple
The other part of a diabetic diet is carb counting. While carbohydrates can play an important role in your health, providing energy, not all carbohydrates provide nutrients and help you stay full for longer. In an ideal diet, you would limit simple carbohydrates, because they will digest faster and turn into glucose in the blood stream. This can cause your blood sugar to rise. While complex carbohydrates digest at a slower rate and won’t raise sugars quite as fast. And, because they digest slower, they stick around a little longer helping to stave off hunger.
But, how do you know the difference between simple and complex carbs? Simple carbs tend to be your baked goods, cookies, cereal, and white bread. While complex carbs will include whole wheat bread, carrots, broccoli, apples, kidney beans, and Quinoa. Complex carbs will help you stay full for longer, provide added nutrients, and won’t cause your sugar to spike. So, when you start carb counting, make sure to keep in mind which carbs you’re ingesting.
Introducing the Glycemic Index (GI)
This index “is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar (glucose levels after eating).” The higher the GI, the faster the food digests, and the quicker it can raise blood sugar levels. You can use the Glycemic Index website to learn more about this, and make smart carb choices.
Why Protein is Important
Protein can help break down sugar, but remember lean proteins are the healthiest option. Those would include: low fat or nonfat dairy (be careful of added sugars), skinless chicken or turkey, 90% lean (or more) ground beef, beans, lentils, fish, tofu, nuts, seeds, eggs, and pork loin.
Utilize a Food Journal and Plan Ahead
As you adapt your diet, utilize a food journal to keep record of what you’re eating, also check your blood sugar to see how it is affected by your daily intake. This will help you determine how your diet is affecting your health. Consult helpful resources such as the GI website to learn more about what you should or shouldn’t be eating. In addition, planning ahead can help you eat healthy throughout the week. Consider healthy snacks to reach for, such as plain yogurt with berries and nuts, or an apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter. Create meal plans to help better prepare for your week ahead. It’s easier to eat healthy and regulate blood sugar when you have the resources, the know how, and take a little time to plan ahead.
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