Crunching Numbers with Type 2 Diabetes
Counting carbs and still not getting good control of your blood sugar? The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has a new suggestion for you: focus on overall healthy eating instead, and you might just subtract numbers on the scale and get your glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers under control. Keep in mind, though, that if you’re on insulin, it’s still important to eat a steady amount of carbohydrates at each meal so you don’t become hypo or hyperglycemic. Generally, however, the ADA suggests that if you eat an overall healthy and balanced diet—focused on whole foods in right portions—the carbohydrates tend to work themselves out evenly throughout the day, enabling you to maintain steady control. Remember, carbohydrates aren’t just in chips, cookies, pasta, bread or rice. They are also in fruit, vegetables, milk, yogurt, beans, and juice.
So what does a healthy, balanced diet look like? A good place to start is to think about MyPlate from the USDA. Picture it: the plate is divided into 4 sections, kind of like a pie that’s cut into 4 almost-equal pieces. One of those sections on your plate should be reserved for fruit. Another section is for vegetables. The other is for grains, like bread, rice, pasta, or a tortilla, and the last section is for your protein, like beans, fish, eggs, tofu, chicken, or lean beef. And we’re not talking a great, big dinner plate piled high with food—the different foods should fit into their sections! You have to stick to portions that help you reach your goal. There’s also a picture of a glass on the side of the USDA’s plate that represents dairy. This serving can be milk, but you can also substitute low-fat cheese, yogurt, or other dairy products in its place. And you don’t necessarily need to have dairy at every meal. The Harvard version of MyPlate features water and exercise in place of dairy. Check the nutrition label for an appropriate serving size—especially for carbohydrates—and be sure to choose foods in their whole form. The less refined, the better! Follow this template, track and trend, and see what sets your blood glucose off.
Here are some hints to keep your portions in check: that section of protein should be about the size of a deck of cards. If the veggie section includes a salad, don’t pile on creamy salad dressing; just a couple of teaspoons or so will do (watch the sugar content). As for fruit, keep it fresh! As much as possible, avoid canned fruit, which is often swimming in sugary syrup or juice. And that grain section? Keep it to what would fit in half a small coffee mug (a little less if it’s rice, a little more if it’s pasta). And try to keep most of your choices whole grains: brown rice instead of white; whole-wheat, buckwheat, or quinoa pasta instead of white; 100% whole-grain instead of white bread or crackers. You’re probably asking, “What about that dessert?” Think of dessert as a lovely indulgence you give to yourself once a week. And remember: dessert is sweetest when shared with others! Then, sit back, savor your treat, eat it slowly, and think mindfully about each lovely little bite.
Here are some more numbers for you to crunch: 3lbs, 5lbs, 10lbs, —whatever feels comfortable—keep some dumbbells around the house. Once or twice a day, do some arm curls. Exercising muscles need energy – they will take up glucose in your bloodstream to get them moving. More sugar in your muscles means less sugar floating around in your blood damaging nerves and organs, or converting themselves to fat and hanging around your liver, your kidneys, your belly, you get the gist. Another set of numbers to crunch? Steps – count them as you go up and down the stairs. Climb flights of stairs as many times as you can tolerate after you eat your meals. Start with 2 sets (that’s twice up and twice down) and work your way to five or ten. Do it at work too, after lunch. If you don’t have stairs handy or you feel out of breath doing so, take a few laps up and down a long hallway. It’s the same idea – the more your muscles work, the more they soak up the sugar in your body. Sitting is the new smoking so start moving more for good health!
Being healthy may not be as easy as 1-2-3, but with some of our pointers, Type 2 Diabetes can be well controlled and you’ll feel like jumping for joy!