NOTE: Before beginning, I want to point out that many of the tips and commandments listed in this article are healthy tips for EVERYONE, not just diabetics. So, READ ON!
Being diagnosed with diabetes, whatever type it might be, is a scary and confusing time. One question asked is “what do I eat now?” or “What diet should I follow”? I did a basic google search using the terms “diabetes management” and got 161,000,000 results! YIKES!
So, what do you do now? Who do you believe? Whose advice do you follow?
One of the first things I learned in my nutrition studies was the concept of “Biochemical Individuality”. This means that everyone is different. Each person has their own unique macro and micronutrient needs. What works for one person, won’t necessarily work for another person. What cures one person of disease, can actually cause disease in another person. Diabetics are no exception to this concept.
So, when I came across an article on the website diaTribe.com, I knew I was on the right track. This article discourages a “diet” and recommends 10 different strategies to help you manage diabetes. It also gives a few tips on developing your own set of commandments. (BTW-this works for anyone!) The article is written by Adam Brown, who has been dealing with type 1 diabetes for 15 years.
Adam indicates that, first, it is important to pay attention to what you eat when logging your blood sugars, after your meal. (90 minutes after). (If you aren’t diabetic, log your food and pay attention to how that food makes you feel physically and emotionally) This will help you establish patterns with your diet and your food. To do this, record your all meals and food, as well as blood sugar levels for a few days. ( Or, record meals, and feelings, if you aren’t diabetic-I recommend at least 3 days, but 5 or 7 is best). Adam recommends 2 apps for this: MySugr and Meal Memory. As you track your food ask yourself the following questions:
- If your post-meal blood sugar (90 minutes post meal) is in the ideal range-(80-140 mg/dl) –ask yourself–what, where, and when did you eat your meals?
- If your post-meal blood sugar (90 minutes post meal) are in the high range (+200 mg/d.) again ask yourself-what, where and when did you eat your meals?
Once you’ve tracked your food/blood sugar, you’ll be able to come up with your own strategies and principles for managing your diabetes. The following 10 commandments are a result of Adam’s own “brainstorming”. I want to remind you that what works for Adam, may not work for you, because everyone is different. However, it’s a good starting point, a good baseline. After tracking your food, you’ll need to “tweek” the commandments to better suit your lifestyle. Onto the “commandments.”
- Limit carbohydrates to no more than 30 grams per setting. Adam worries that this may be a bit controversial for nutritionists and dietician. However, since all carbs break down to individual sugar molecules in the body, I think this tip makes perfect sense. As long as you are eating healthy, whole food carbohydrates, AND getting enough fiber (minimum of 25 grams per day) this shouldn’t be a problem.
- Eat more vegetables. This doesn’t just go for diabetics! Most people in the USA don’t eat nearly enough. Eat as many non-starchy vegetables a day as you can handle. There is no limit here.
- Eat whole foods as often as possible. Remember a whole food is something you could walk into a garden or field and pick yourself. If you do buy a packaged product, read the label. Make sure it has 5 ingredients or less. If it has 10 or more, don’t buy it. Also, if you can’t read or pronounce an ingredient, or if your great-great grandmother wouldn’t recognize an ingredient, you shouldn’t be eating it.
- Cook your own food. As much fun as it is to eat out at restaurants, you can’t control what goes in your food. Cooking yourself, allows you to purchase and prepare high quality recipes.
- Avoid the following: sugar, white bread/potatoes/rice/pasta, crackers, chips, candy, and anything fried. (I’ll add: avoid any highly processed food in general)
- Great healthy snacks: nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and lean sources of protein.
- Drink water or unsweetened tea. (I’ll add here, herbal teas are best. Check out my article on preparing your own herbal tea mixes.)
- Eat a filling breakfast (protein, fiber) and don’t eat 90 minutes of bedtime.
- Need dessert? Eat fruit.
- Check my blood sugar :90-120 minutes after eating .
Here is an infographic of the 10 “commandments”
Next week, we’ll discuss
how to overcome everyday challenges.
Please visit diatribe.com and Adam’s article here: 10 Diet Commandments for Better Diabetes Management | diaTribe