Note: If you were recently diagnosed, this article will work a lot better for you. If you’ve been a Diabetic for a long time, you may already have a method that works for you – great! Or, if you’re looking for a little change in your old routine, consider taking food ideas from here a la carte style.
Do bear in mind that even if you have been a Diabetic for a long time (such as myself; have been a Type 1 for over twenty years now) you can still make little changes. I fell victim to trying to eat as “normal” as possible and indulge in the same foods my non-Diabetic boyfriend/friends would eat, only to suffer from relentless high glucose readings from processed foods and an overall crummy feeling.
Also, I am in no way a doctor or certified to discuss this as a health professional. I am talking about what has worked for me as a Type 1 Diabetic for over twenty years. Please take this as friendly advice and not medical advice. Thank you.
I have definitely made some big and little changes, and trust me, they did not happen overnight. It’s taken me about half a year to fully incorporate my new eating habits, and it is still an on-going process as I try new things or continue to find what works well for me.
To give you a better understanding of how I eat, let me summarize it in a few words:
I eat lean meats, plenty of greens, and clean foods (not processed). Hence the term “lean, clean, and green.” I also no longer eat cheese (yes, I willingly cut cheese out from my diet) or drink milk, but I do still have yogurt (non-fat Greek yogurt to be precise). I eat minimal carbs, and watch my sodium and sugar intake as well. (And before you say anything, this is not an abridged version of that Atkins diet; it’s a lifestyle of whole foods.)
Just to clear up some bewilderment, I know as a Diabetic cheese is a “free-food,” meaning you can snack on it and not have to worry about it really affecting your blood sugars. And I ate cheese quite often; in fact I grew up around cheese – my dad used to bring me little snack plates of apples and cheese, or we’d get fancy wedges (such as bleu or brie) to snack on. I definitely grew up in a cheese-loving household, which made the habit of wanting to eat cheese difficult to shake off.
Why did I cut out cheese if it’s a “free-food?” I stopped eating cheese due to the bloat and the caloric intake. Not eating cheese was more of a weight-loss move than a move related to being a Diabetic.
If you can’t give up cheese, that’s fine! If you want to try giving it up, slowly wean yourself away from it and get used to eating things that you would normally eat with cheese, without. Cheeses that help with the weaning process should be low-calorie cheeses such as Feta (buy reduced fat version, feta can be saturated fat heavy).
Other than that, I don’t eat cheese and I don’t have the desire to either (to my boyfriend’s disbelief [he’s a cheese lover])!
I also watch my sugar intake (obviously)! What do I mean by that? I mean, next time you go shopping and inspect those nutrition fact labels, check out to see how many grams of sugar are in one serving of what you’re about to purchase. If it reads more than 10g, dump it. Some people recommend a little more (like 15g). I prefer to keep it to a nice even number such as 10 so I can remember it easily when shopping.
If you’re also struggling with weight-loss, reducing your sugar intake helps with the process of losing weight because when you consume sugar it adds additional calories to your diet. Therefore, reducing sugar = reducing caloric intake.
Before you start throwing away everything that has a trace of sugar in it, keep in mind that natural sources of sugar are ok! Take fruit for example, it’s nutritious and is nature’s version of sugar, not the type you find in fizzy soft-drinks or processed foods.
I also eat minimal carbohydrates from sources such as breads and pastas because I have discovered that they do not cooperate well with my glucose readings. Pasta is a definite culprit of having spiked my glucose readings for hours upon hours. So, instead of dealing with the carb-crashing and the insane glucose levels, I just subtracted pasta from my eating habits.
If you like pasta and it does not have an adverse effect on your blood sugars after eating, then definitely consider a high-fiber pasta or brown rice pasta (which is gluten-free, tastes lighter and doesn’t leave you feeling weighed down, a.k.a., carb crashing).
Why high-fiber? Having sources of high-fiber is GREAT for Diabetics, because it helps control glucose levels by slowing down sugar absorption. Think of it this way: fiber-dense foods take longer to digest, which means instead of spiking your glucose levels it will gradually increase them.
Can I get fiber from other foods too? In addition to whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans are fiber-dense! Load up on ‘em!
If you’re thinking of removing pasta and bread from your eating habits, or even cutting back, consider supplementing a vegetable version of well-loved carb-laden dishes. For example, cauliflower mash is a great supplement to mashed potatoes and spaghetti squash is an awesome substitute to regular spaghetti.
Just to give you an idea of some things I eat for meals, here’s a little breakdown. Also be sure to follow me on Twitter @emilygetsfit because I post photos of meals per day there too.
Breakfast can be one of the following:
– Non-fat Greek yogurt with fruit of my choice (I usually do 1 cup or ½ cup blueberries)
– “Barbara’s Puffins” cereal (they have a decent amount of fiber and are not too sugary) with 1 cup almond milk (you don’t feel bloated, plus 1 cup is only 6 carbs depending on which “flavor” you choose – I like vanilla)
– Low-carb whole wheat tortilla wrap (I get “La Tortilla Factory” brand, only 6 net carbs for a whole wrap) with lean meat and veggies
– Salad with some form of protein and balsamic dressing
– Whole wheat sandwich (choose mustard not mayo; if you can get bread bands such as Ezekiel or Dave’s Killer Bread, those are best because they’re fiber-dense!)
– Quinoa (similar to couscous in texture, is protein dense)
– Homemade turkey burgers (buy ground turkey, prep burgers, and then grill!)
– Chicken with salad/some salad with protein on the side
– Shrimp with quinoa
Snack attack ideas:
– Hummus with baby carrots
– 5 strawberries are only about 4/5 carbs!
– ThinkThin bars are non-dairy, non-gluten “snack” bars, they have very little carbohydrates in them and taste yummy
– Kashi bars are great too, especially if your glucose runs low frequently
– “Free” veggies such as cucumber slices, etc.
I really hope this gives everyone a better idea of what to eat or how to eat! I find this works best for me, so feel free to pick and pull whatever you think will work for you. Good luck to my fellow Diabetics and lots of love <3