For those of us who have to watch our blood sugar levels, making changes in the way we eat is essential. In times past, this usually meant completely eliminating all sorts of foods from our diets, never again to know the joy of a slice of chocolate cake, hot buttered cornbread, or even a loaded baked potato. Over the years, dietitians have come to the conclusion that even diabetics need a certain amount of carbohydrates in order to be healthy. Here are some ideas on managing your carb intake and being able to have a treat now and then.
Have a treat now and then. The good news for many diabetics today is that you can still have many of the foods you live; what is different is the how often you have those foods. While the days of devouring half a coconut cream pie or scarfing down half a loaf of garlic bread are truly gone, there is no reason why once a week you can’t indulge in a slice (not a wedge!) of pie or cake, and have one piece of garlic bread with a meal. Many doctors today are recommending that diabetics set aside one day a week to enjoy limited amounts of one or two carefully selected treats over the course of the day. This really can help you manage cravings, since there is always something later in the week to look forward to.
Keep temptation out of the house. Unless you have the wisdom of Solomon and the self-control of a monk, there are certain foods that should not be kept in your home. This includes white bread, cake mixes, sugar-laden cereals, pudding mixes, packaged candy, or anything that provides an ample dose of simple carbohydrates. Keep fruit, whole grains like oatmeal, plenty of green vegetables, lean meats and apples or other fruit that is high in fiber on hand instead. The carbs are lower, tend to lean toward complex rather than simple, and will wreak less havoc on your blood sugar.
Monitor portion size. This cannot be emphasized enough. It doesn’t matter if something has relatively few carbs per serving; if you consume six servings at one meal, your blood glucose level is going to go through the roof. As a nation, we eat way too much at most meals anyway. See this as a way to not only control your blood sugar, but also to avoid eating so much that you develop indigestion or acid reflux.
Avoid buffets like the plague. No matter what good intentions you have when approaching a hot food bar, they are soon buried beneath a plateful of delightful but greasy fried chicken, a mountain of mashed potatoes and gravy, and enough macaroni and cheese to feed an army. Stick to restaurants where portions are limited and the menu includes plenty of options that fit your diet plan. Don’t be backward about asking for half portions to be served and the rest placed in a to-go container. You’ll still feel satisfied and have a nice meal all prepared for the next day.
Finally, have your treats away from home. That way, there’s no chance for seconds, or the temptation to consume leftover treats. Once again, remember portion size. If you absolutely must have that super-sized chocolate lava cake that comes with ice cream and hot fudge, order two or three spoons and a small bowls along with the dessert. This allows you to share with everyone else at the table, a strategy that further helps you from overdoing.
Having diabetes is not the death sentence it was several decades ago. There are many oral medications that can help control blood sugar. However, they are meant to be used along with some basic horse-sense when it comes to eating, not in place of good dietary habits. By sticking to a nutritious diet most of the week, taking your medication as prescribed, and allowing yourself a treat now and then, you can manage your diabetes efficiently, without feeling deprived.