Diabetes: Steady As She Goes!
Last updated: March 2022
Whether or not you have diabetes, eating mindfully and making informed food choices can help you enjoy your meal even more, and feel better afterwards! For diabetes management, meal consistency and meal composition are key. Evaluate your current eating pattern, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I eating regular meals and snacks throughout the day?
- Could I be doing better with my portion sizes?
- Are my meals balanced? Do they contain healthy fats, lean proteins, and the right amount of complex carbohydrates?
4 strategies to maintain blood sugar levels
By following a few meal-building strategies, you can take charge of your blood sugar levels. Here are four key targets to help keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day and to help you avoid that blood-sugar roller-coaster ride!
Strategy #1: Focus on eating regular meals and snacks throughout the day
If you eat only one or two large meals in a day, your body may be getting more glucose than it can process at once. This can result in an initial blood sugar spike, followed by low blood sugar if your meals are spread too far apart. Here’s what you can do instead: try distributing your meals evenly and at regular intervals throughout the day. This will help supply your body with a steady source of energy and a more manageable amount of glucose, resulting in more predictable blood sugar levels.
Strategy #2: Watch your portions by eating mindfully
Here’s where mindful eating comes into play. Mindful eating allows you to listen to your hunger and satiety cues, which are the cues that signal to your brain that you feel full. Try to tune in to your hunger signals- when you feel them, this is your green light to eat. When you feel full, this is your cue to stop. By practicing mindful eating, you’ll provide your body with nutrients when it needs them, and stop when your body has had enough. This will help regulate your blood sugar levels. Eating before you get “too hungry” will help prevent hypoglycemia, and stopping before you get “too full” will help prevent hyperglycemia. Try for yourself! Practice mindful eating the next time you sit down for a meal, and see how much better you feel.
Strategy #3: Divide your daily carbohydrates evenly across 3 meals, although breakfast may be a bit lighter, and remember snacks too!
The goal here is to be consistent. Typically, carbohydrate targets will range between 30-45 at breakfast and 45-75 grams of carbohydrates per meal and 15-30 grams of carbohydrates per snack. Aim to eat a similar amount of carbohydrates with fiber for your meals and a similar amount for your snacks. Play detective by monitoring your post prandial blood glucose. Are your blood sugar levels still running high? Here are several tips:
- For some people, blood sugar levels after breakfast tend to run high due to what is called the dawn phenomenon.1 If you notice this happening, consider eating a lower level of carbohydrate at breakfast.
- Eating one more serving of carbohydrate at lunch instead of dinner may help regulate blood sugar levels because we tend to be more active during the day.
Finding that balance with meal times and food amounts gets easier with practice. Likewise, after measuring your carbohydrates, you’ll learn how to “eye-ball” amounts.
Strategy #4: Build a balanced plate by including proteins and fats to blunt your blood sugar response!
Meals and snacks consisting of only carbohydrate foods tend to drive up your blood sugar and leave you feeling hungry shortly after. Use the super-powers of lean proteins and healthy fats to help blunt the effect on your blood sugar. This will not only help stabilize your blood sugar, but you’ll also feel more constant energy for a longer period of time.
If you want to make some changes but are feeling overwhelmed, you don’t need to try all of these strategies at once. Choose the one that sounds the most realistic and feasible for you to implement, and go from there! You’ll feel better about your meal choices and know you are taking steps in the right direction to properly manage your blood sugar levels.
How often do you find yourself craving sweet snacks?