Managing Blood Sugars: Diabetes
Receiving a diagnosis of pre-diabetes or diabetes is not what we want to hear, but there is good news. I hope by the end of reading this you will feel empowered to make some healthy changes in your life. There are so many wonderful tools available to help you manage your blood sugars and stay healthy even with this diagnosis! I hope this article will help you get started in sorting through all of the nutrition “noise”.
Myths about Diabetes
First, let’s dispel some myths about diabetes. This is really important. Most people have a sense of guilt when they are diagnosed, and this is not necessarily appropriate. There are many risk factors to developing diabetes and it is not necessarily your “fault”. Even if you know you haven’t been taking care of your body like you should, don’t dwell on the past, resolve to make some simple changes today!
Here are 5 common myths about diabetes:
- Eating too much sugar causes Diabetes. This is simply NOT true. There are many risk factors and eating excess sugar is not one of them. Risk factors include: chronic stress, lack of sleep, chronic inflammation, low physical activity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, PCOS, and family history, African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native American or Alaska native, are over the age of 45.
- If you are overweight or obese, you will develop diabetes. You do have a higher risk of developing diabetes if you have excess weight. But excess weight does NOT mean you will for sure get diabetes.
- People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods. “Diabetic Foods” are often deserts made with artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols to reduce sugar content. Sugar content is NOT what a person with diabetes should be looking at, but rather, they should be aware of the “total carbohydrates” in a food. Most sugar substitutes wreak havoc on the digestive system and can cause inflammation making blood sugar control worse.
- If you have diabetes, you can’t eat certain foods like pasta or chocolate. I don’t know who started this, but it is completely wrong. All foods can fit even if you are working on stabilizing your blood sugars. You may need to reduce the amounts of certain foods, but I always encourage clients to make ways to fit in the foods they really love.
- If you have diabetes and you have to start on insulin, you have failed. The most important goal with prediabetes and diabetes is that you keep your blood sugars in target range. That range is usually set by your doctor or Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. Everyone has slightly different targets, but in general, the ADA recommends keeping your blood sugars between 80 mg/dL and 130 mg/dL before meals and less than 180 mg/dL 2 hours after a meal.
Now to answer the question we have all been waiting for!
How can you keep your blood sugars stable?
There are 3 key steps:
- Keep Carbohydrate intake consistent. Of course, everyone has different carbohydrate needs, and if you need help figuring this out, let me know! In general, 30-60 grams per meal and 0-15 grams per snack is appropriate. I still encourage listening to your body and eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. It is reasonable to use these carbohydrate guidelines even while using Intuitive eating.
- Always include a good source of protein, fat, and fiber with your meals and snacks. This means don’t eat a piece of fruit all by itself. Add peanut butter or cheese. You can check out this article for more snack ideas.
- Eat non-starchy vegetables BEFORE you eat the rest of your meal or snack. This will fulfill your fiber goal in key #2, but as always, the more fiber you can include the better it will be for your blood sugars.
Always remember to do the best you can with these 3 goals. Remember, there is no such thing as a perfect diet, so we continue to learn about what foods do to our blood sugars and we do the best we can to get to our goals. If you need more support and further guidance, please check out the “work with Jenn” page on my website for program options. I hope this article has encouraged and empowered you to make some healthy changes!