Go Hard With a Nutrition Game-plan
Last updated: August 2022
With diabetes, it can be overwhelming to think about eating healthier. That doesn't mean it has to be complicated. With some education and a few basic guidelines, you can gain momentum in the right direction and find the best nutrition game-plan that works for your unique diabetes journey.
Explore how nutrition impacts type 2 diabetes
The first step is understanding what foods most significantly affect your blood glucose levels. Firstly, learn about choosing healthy foods. You can keep a food journal for a few days, recording everything you eat and drink and how your glucose levels change after each meal.
Next, look for patterns in your blood sugar levels. Ask yourself, "Are any foods causing my blood sugar to rise? Does anything lower it?" Through this exploration, you can learn to identify which foods or meals do not impact your blood glucose at all. Most importantly, the key here is to explore as many foods as possible, so you can begin to form a personalized nutrition plan.
Don't wing it, make a plan
Identify the foods that significantly affect your blood glucose levels and replace them with healthier alternatives that are still tasty and satisfying. For instance, if bread makes your blood sugar spike, try switching to whole-grain bread or cutting bread out altogether.
If you notice that eating fruit spikes your blood sugar after eating it raw, try cooking the fruit instead. Knowing your body's responses to certain foods is essential when planning a dietary revamp. It's like playing a sport.
Now, jumping right in works for some people, but not necessarily for all. Start by modifying 1 meal with a healthier alternative, and work your way up. It takes small steps to gain and maintain the momentum of a new diabetes-friendly lifestyle. You have to find what works. I call it the pre-season.
Rely on your teammates
Similarly, to win the game, you must know who your opponent is to give you the maximum chance of winning. Also, winning takes a team mentality. Registered dietitians, primary care physicians, or certified diabetes educators who make up your healthcare team can provide you with support and knowledge for managing your diabetes safely with nutrition, exercise, and medications.
Eat with a purpose
After you plan, you need to act. That means implementing the plan to eat well. Consider adding more raw and whole foods to your daily eating plan. For many folks, eliminating processed sugar from their diet is beneficial to maintaining normal blood glucose.
A significant change I made was eating a more vegetarian and alkaline diet. That didn't mean I cut out everything loved, like meat and carbs. It meant setting portion sizes and focusing more on vegetable consumption in my meals.
The carbohydrate conundrum
Let's be honest, carbs are everywhere, and your body needs them for energy. Not all carbs are bad. Knowing what foods trigger your glucose to rise and preparing for that will help tremendously with diabetes management. Most importantly, read the food labels. Food labels are like watching game tapes of the other team. It tells you everything you need to know.
Don't half-step, meal prep
Having a plan of execution for eating throughout your day involves a process. Meal prepping is the fuel to your success. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Taking the time to plan out your meals every week can be a challenge, but the result of that challenge can be very rewarding. Importantly, meal prepping allows you to learn what triggers glucose spikes or dips in diabetes management. Planned meals and snacks can help with weight management and portion control. Therefore, meal planning is your playbook for game day.
Diabetes management is wholistic
Above all, eating healthier and being more active are critical to maintaining your diabetes game plan. As a sports photographer, I keep snacks in my bag while working on the sidelines. Considering what I ate for breakfast, I can plan the appropriate snacks and meals for the rest of the day during my work shift.
Ultimately, meal planning helps me eat with a purpose. There are plenty of apps in the AppStore to help log your food consumption and glucose levels. Furthermore, there are recipes and meal ideas available to assist with your meal and snack planning process for your diabetes management.
This or That
Do you use any free apps on your phone to help track your lab work, glucose levels, get help tackling prescription prices and/or set nutrition goals?
Do you find it difficult to "eat right" and stick to a nutrition plan?