Eating well is necessary for anyone, with or without diabetes, to remain healthy. Eating well is also the foundation for good diabetes control. The dietary recommendations suggested for someone with diabetes are very similar to what those without diabetes would be given.
Skipping breakfast? You are not alone! Skipping breakfast is common for many people. Let’s look at the benefits of adding food into the start of your daily schedule and how you might begin to make breakfast a regular habit. Eating breakfast can do the following things.
Eating a breakfast does not have to mean eating the typical foods like cereal and toast. Would you prefer to eat a piece of pizza, leftovers from supper or a sandwich? Anything goes, as long as you make your choices healthy and have a reasonable portion size. Whatever you choose, try to add in a food from three out of the four food groups from Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating.
If you are a person who finds fitting in a sit-down breakfast tough, try some of these quick on-the-go meals.
Most of these quick meals only provide two out of the four food groups. They are not fully balanced in providing as much variety of vitamins and minerals as meals containing three or four food groups might give. However, making sure you eat something to start your day and making healthy choices is most important. You could also make up for missing foods by adding a beverage to the meal or having a mid-morning snack.
Once breakfast is taken care of, look at some of your other eating habits through the day. Decide which habits are positive ones you should continue. Also decide which could be changed to have a good effect on better blood sugar control. Here are some things to think about in assessing your current eating habits.
If you answered yes to all of these questions, you are on the right track to control your diabetes with healthy eating. If you answered no to two or more of the questions, then that helps you with a place to start for making changes to your daily routine.
To start making lifestyle changes that you can be successful at doing long-term, you need to set SMART goals.
S - Small
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Realistic
T - Timelines
Set two or three small, realistic and achievable goals that you can try to improve upon for a timeline of one month. After that month, evaluate how you have done with the goals you set for yourself. Decide if they are now newly-established habits. If you feel you need to focus on those same goals for a longer period of time, do so. If you feel ready to tackle one to three small new goals, then decide what they will be and start to work on them.
Everyone has some good dietary habits and some that are not so healthy. Try to build on your foundation of good habits instead of just focusing on what you aren’t doing right. Remember, we all have our good and bad days. Stay positive and keep moving forward with your lifestyle and dietary improvements.
What and how much you eat affects your blood sugars, so make good dietary choices and educate yourself on healthy eating. Find out if there are diabetes educators in your area and make an appointment to meet with them. They will talk with you about the importance of healthy eating, regular exercise and blood sugar goals so that you can play a large part in looking after your diabetes. Remember, you are the one in charge of the daily habits that will affect your health! Make it a habit to see your healthcare team to discuss your SMART goals for better diabetes control.
'Sugar-free' foods are an option for people with diabetes to possibly reduce the total amount of carbohydrate (sugar) eaten from that item. Examples of these foods are diet pop, sugar-free candies and chocolates, diet yogurt, diet gelatin and diet pudding. Some of these foods may not add any sugar (or carbohydrate) to have an effect on your blood sugars. Other foods marked 'sugar-free' may have no added sugar, but still affect your blood sugars because they contain a natural sugar source. Others are just reduced in total carbohydrate in comparison to the regular product, but still have some blood glucose effect.
Diabetic foods are similar to 'sugar-free' foods because they have been changed so that they do not contain as much added sugar, or have a different form of sweetener added. Sugar alcohols like mannitol, xylitol, lactilol, and sorbitol are often the sweetener used. This sweetener does not affect blood sugars as much as white or brown sugar, but they still cause an increase. These food items can frequently be more expensive to buy and will likely cause some gas, bloating and diarrhea if eaten in too large a quantity.
Some sugar-free or diabetic products can be good choices as part of your diabetes meal plan. However, thinking that they are a 'free' food and won’t affect your blood sugars is definitely misleading. If you choose to use any of these items, remember that a carbohydrate (sugar) is a carbohydrate is a carbohydrate! The total amount of sugar coming from your meal is the key factor in your blood sugar control, not just the source of the sugar.
Most of the foods that are eaten break down into sugar. This includes breads, cereals, fruits, some vegetables, milk and yogurt. These foods need to be eaten every day to give the body nutrients to stay healthy and to function properly. The portions you eat at any one time will make the most difference to the rise in your blood sugars one to two hours afterwards. Less healthy, sugary or non-nutritious foods can be a part of your intake, but make sure you are building that strong foundation with the nutritious foods from Canada’s Food Guide and enjoy the others as an occasional treat.