by Cindy Lou Betz
This is a question that I see often in our Diabetes- What To Know Facebook communities. Here’s the answer I like to give:
First and foremost, you need to look at your food choices and how they are affecting you. Learn to test in pairs. A lot of us who are in good control got here by buying the cheap ReliOn Prime glucose meter and strips at Walmart and testing before and after meals for a couple of weeks, so that we could learn what foods and serving sizes work best for us.
Here’s how it works…
To start, check your blood glucose before a meal and then two hours after. Keep a journal or use an online app to keep a log of what you ate, what your serving sizes were and your glucose numbers before the meal and at 2 hours after. If you are using plate method, you will soon see that adjusting your serving size of starchy vegetables, whole grains and meat really has an impact on your glucose. We need starches and whole grains in our diets, but we do have room to play with serving sizes on them.
How many servings? It depends…
Remember that one serving of starchy vegetables is 1/2 cup and equal to about 15 grams of carbohydrate. One serving of whole grain is 1/3 cup and equal to about 15 grams of carbohydrate. Some of us can handle two starches or whole grain servings at a meal, some of us can handle three per meal, but for me (and a lot of other folks I knew) when first lowering my blood sugar, I had to stick with one serving at least at meals per day until I got back into normal fasting range.
I know many who did one starch or whole grain at breakfast and lunch, then had two at dinner and one at afternoon snack time during this phase. It is also very important to learn that for women, meat and meat substitutes like eggs and cheese have a limit for everyone who is eating healthy, not just people with diabetes. For most women that serving size per day is 4 to 6 ounces, for most men, it’s 6 to 8 ounces per day.
This all changes again once you start getting any weight you need to lose off and in good control. What we can handle when we’re first diagnosed and what we can handle even two or three months later is really different!! So don’t feel that you always are going to be eating the way you are when first diagnosed.
A few more tips…
Work with your dietitian. When they realize you are very committed, they will help you adjust carbs regularly. There is no need to ever be hungry while learning to control.
The non-starchy family of vegetables is always our good friend, especially when we first start trying to lower. It is almost impossible to overeat this food group.
Also remember that a ten-minute walk after meals is almost as good as a shot of insulin in terms of lowering after meal numbers at two hours. It will also get you started on your 30 minutes of necessary exercise per day.
I know this sounds like a lot of work, but the journaling and extra testing help you learn so much about your body and how it responds in just two to three weeks and will help you develop new healthy habits too. It’s not something you have to continue for the rest of your life, but it will set you up for a healthier life!
I encourage you to give it a try… it sure has made all the difference for me.