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Living with diabetes can be difficult at times. I am here to tell you there are ways to control your blood sugar with dietary changes. When we talk about controlling blood sugar we look at four things; timing of meals, types of carbohydrates, portion sizes, and pairing protein with carbohydrates. This does not mean always giving up your favorite foods or saying no to social gatherings. This means eating in moderation and trying to eat an overall balanced diet.
Timing of Meals
Timing of meals is important because this prevents what I like to call “peaks and valleys.” This can be described as blood sugar rising quickly and then dropping very low hours later. The goal is for blood sugar to remain relatively stable with gradual increases and decreases throughout the day. Eating consistent meals helps stabilize blood sugar. This can mean three meals with one to two snacks during the day or this could be five to six smaller meals spread evenly throughout the day.
Types of Carbohydrates
Focusing on whole grains, fruits, and starchy vegetables will help keep blood sugar stable. These types of foods have fiber, which help slow down the digestion of carbohydrates. The example I like to use is an apple versus apple juice. An apple has fiber where apple juice does not. If you were to drink a glass of apple juice that was equal to the amount of carbohydrate in a whole apple, it is more likely to spike your blood sugar. Apple juice will digest quicker and release glucose into your blood stream faster.
Portion control is important because we do not want to eat too many carbohydrates in one sitting. The recommended amount of carbohydrates for meals is 45-75 grams and for snacks 15-30 grams. I recommend measuring your food and using an app on your phone or computer for 1-2 weeks to help get an idea of what this amount of carbohydrates looks like. Another method to use is the plate method. This refers to the practice of making half your plate non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, brussel sprouts, green beans, leafy greens, etc. Next, make a quarter of your plate a lean protein such as fish or skinless chicken breast. The remaining quarter of your plate should be your starch such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, or whole wheat pasta. On the side you can have a piece of fruit or dairy source.
Pairing Protein with Carbohydrates
Protein is important to pair with carbohydrates because like fiber it also helps slow down the digestion of carbohydrates. Protein also helps keep you full longer in between meals. Be sure to eat a protein source at every meal and snack. Having a snack 30 minutes to an hour before bed that consists of protein and approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates can also be beneficial for blood sugar control while you are sleeping. Good protein sources are skinless chicken breast, fish, Greek yogurt, pork loin, 90/10 ground meats, and low-fat cheese. Examples of snacks to have before bed are peanut butter and a small apple, 5 crackers with low-fat cheese, or one slice of peanut butter toast.
If you'd like to learn more on our nutrition services or on how to manage your diabetes through nutrition and exercise, contact us today! Head on over to http://www.fullscalefit.com/nutrition-services to learn more. Thank you for reading!
Author: Kayla Ferber, RD, LD - Full Scale Fitness Dietitian