Eating with Diabetes: Get Thee behind Me, Sugar!
Many people with diabetes fear that the quality of their food choices will decline with the onset of the disease. While you will definitely have to watch what you eat more than the average person does, diabetes does not mean a death sentence to good meals. There is a great deal of information available on the Internet about constructing your own diabetic diet, but a few helpful tips will go a long way towards making your palate happier.
More than just the food you eat; eating patterns are different with diabetes and hypoglycemia. Rather than the traditional 3 meals a day, diabetics need to eat 6 times. Breakfast, a midmorning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, dinner and then an evening snack. While you’ll eat more frequently, the size of the meals needs to be smaller; diabetics don’t need more calories in their diets, the reverse is true, but they do need to maintain blood sugar levels at or as near a constant level as possible. Doctors also recommend keeping the size of the meals the same from day to day, to help maintain blood sugar levels better.
Let’s talk about food. Processed, refined sugar is bad. Let’s get that straight right off; it’s not good for you if you’re not a diabetic, but for someone with diabetes, sugar is not something that needs to be consumed on a regular basis. This leaves open a whole avenue of diet drinks and foods, though. Look for labels with the words “no sugar added.” Many grocery stores have sections for diabetics and sugar sensitive individuals; cookies, candies and more.
Eat healthy. This doesn’t mean go on a crash diet; eat whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables and don’t add sugar to meals. This lends itself to eating healthier all the way around; you’ll find yourself forgoing the burger and fries and making meals at home. Use a sugar substitute like Splenda when making desserts. You’ll still get the sweetness you want, without having to worry so much about how many sugars you’re taking in.
The biggest thing to remember is to go easy. Light sauces, low fat dressings and spreads, and skim milk. No matter what anyone tells you, you can still eat starches; there’s no need to lay off the starchy goodness; lighten it up. Instead of fries and greasy potato chips try pretzels, a baked potato and whole grain bread; starches are healthy for everyone, including diabetics. You just need to consume the right ones.
Starches are carbohydrates and as I said, there’s no need for you to lay off them. Healthy choices are still full of flavor; raw or cooked vegetables; fresh fruits in almost any form, low fat yogurt, and low fat sour cream. You’ll find that you feel better with a healthier diet as well, and your blood sugar levels will stay more constant. Without an influx of junk foods that are packed with sugars and fats, you’re body will be able to maintain itself better.
A healthy diet, combined with exercise, will go a long way towards delaying long term damage from diabetes.