As most of you probably know, I became a type I diabetic at the ripe old age of 18 months. Since then, my life has been structured around my blood sugar levels and the need to keep it steady. People with diabetes know how important it is to keep their blood glucose levels healthy, but avoiding blood sugar spikes takes some practice. Here is some advice on how to keep blood sugar stable and prevent spikes.
Whether you're managing low blood sugar symptoms or preventing levels from going too high, pay attention to the number of carbs you're eating. The total amount of carbohydrates eaten at once makes the most difference. When you eat a few carbohydrates at a time, your blood glucose goes up a little. When you eat a lot of carbohydrates at a single meal or snack, it goes up a lot. This is a concern with type I diabetes and also if you have type II or prediabetes, and less so in healthy people.
When you’re diagnosed with diabetes you generally go through a range of emotions, including stress and anxiety. It’s good to know that eating healthy is the same for people who do not have diabetes and people with diabetes. There's really no need to overthink it.
Digestion slows when you eat multiple nutrients at once versus a carb-heavy food such as a large plate of spaghetti or bowl of ice cream. You'll feel fuller if you eat from food macronutrients—protein, carbohydrate and fats. Most people find that they are better able to keep hunger at bay and their energy levels high when they eat balanced meals.
Though there are many foods that are "bad" for diabetics, filling out your plate doesn't have to be complicated. Start with low-cal, low-carb, non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, squash, and tomatoes. Then add whole grains and protein such as fish, chicken or beans. For satiating fat, grab a portion of olive oil, nuts, or avocado.
Not only does your bread and pasta fall into the carb category, but so does fruit, starchy veggies( such as potatoes, peas, or corn), as well as milk and yogurt. Non-starchy veggies do contain carbs, but in much smaller amounts.
No fruit is off-limits, however some types happen to be the healthiest fruits you can eat. Whether you're grabbing an apple, berries, or pineapple, just like carbohydrates, you want to pay attention in terms of 15-gram serving sizes. For example, a small apple, one cup of melon, or a half cup of canned fruit (in juice) are all equal to one serving.
While weight loss is important for people who have type II diabetes or prediabetes, it's also important to eat a satisfying amount of food, too. Remember that out-of-control hunger can have you reaching for not-so-nutritious choices like junk food which could affect your blood sugar levels.
You already know that eating balanced meals includes a hefty dose of non-starchy veggies. These not only provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but they're also essential in filling you up. Find veggies you enjoy, add variety, and experiment with ways to cook them to jazz them up.
A simple breakfast can set your day up for healthy eating. Pick out a source of protein and carbs. That might mean a container of Greek yogurt. It contains both protein and carbs and is ideal if you'd rather have something small. Other options include eggs and a slice of toast or a serving of oatmeal with cheese. Or, what seems to be my breakfast most working days, a protein bar.
One thing to know is that if you have type II diabetes your goal is to increase your insulin sensitivity. Some specific foods help with this, like oats, barley, and legumes like lentils or beans. In fact, beans are one of the best foods for people with diabetes. Legumes' fiber or resistant starch feeds healthy bacteria in the gut and can help decrease insulin resistance. Still, you should watch portions, as these foods contain carbs, too.
Cinnamon, cumin, oregano, curry--all add a boost of flavor to your meals with healthy herb and spices—these spices can help fight disease and ease insulin resistance and you should cook with them liberally. They can help replace the amount of salt needed in the meal. High blood pressure is a problem for two out of three people with diabetes, those with the condition are often advised to limit sodium consumption.
How a meal or snack will affect your blood sugar levels differs from person-to-person. I recommend measuring your level just before eating and two hours after the first bite. The difference you will see is mostly from the food. Knowing those numbers can help give you an idea of how to make the healthiest choices for you. It’s also important that you review all your medications and their impact on your blood glucose levels. We at Palmetto Endocrinology are happy to help with that. Your blood sugar or blood glucose is the body's most important source of energy. Over time, high blood sugar—which is toxic—can lead to many health problems, like heart disease, stroke, vision loss, and more. Low blood glucose levels can lead to symptoms like mental changes and comas. It is key that you keep your blood sugar levels under control.
The good news is that your body has a beautifully controlled method to keep blood sugar levels in the safe zone, which is the hormone insulin. When blood sugar starts to rise, as it normally does after you eat, insulin goes up too, encouraging your body to use the blood glucose as energy or store it in the liver for future use. The bad news is that some people develop insulin resistance, a precursor to type II diabetes, and the hormone starts to lose its ability to keep blood sugar under control. And others may develop an autoimmune condition, type I diabetes, that destroys the insulin-producing cells in the body.
Many of things you eat can affect your blood glucose levels, particularly if you have diabetes, but there are other tricky things that have an impact as well such as stress, or amount of exercise. We at Palmetto Endocrinology are happy to guide you through this. Please call for an appointment.