Diabetes is not a death sentence. There I said it. Your world is not ending. You will live through this difficult time. Most of you reading this might be thinking “What a witch!” Maybe I am but maybe I am addressing fears that are unspoken by most of the newly diagnosed Diabetes patients. The majority of Diabetes patients are diagnosed later in life though some are young and children. Let me give you a quick and easy explanation: There are two different types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. (I know geniuses right! We can actually pronounce what they are!)
Type 1 is usually found in childhood and is non-reversible. It is also insulin dependent and cannot be “cured” with diet alone. Though proper diet will assist in keeping blood glucose levels consistent. (I say this but have actually cared for a patient that did have a transplant and was no longer needing insulin. So maybe modern medicine will come around and find a cure instead of a Band-Aid.)
Type 2 is usually found later in young adults on up to elderly. There are many factors that go in to why you can become a Type 2 diabetic but I will not go in to all of those now. Type 2 Diabetic patients may become insulin dependent but do not start out that way the majority of the time. Now this will not cover all of your “why me” questions but lets get to the “how can I control it” question.
First thing to remember is food is fuel. Unfortunately, it does not all process the same; similar to Diesel, unleaded, premium, and racing fuel. The engine is designed specific for each one. Our bodies are designed to digest and turn the food to fuel but with the new system fuel can either come out fast like racing fuel or heavy like diesel. (or anywhere in between) Let jump to what fuels you before you knew you had Diabetes. If you are reading this to make a change then I suggest you get out a pen and paper. Write down your favorite foods and drinks. Even meals that you and your family love. (Yay! Kindergarten papers… I promise it is beneficial.) Set this paper aside because you will end up circling the foods that are good and crossing off the No’s. No two people are the same. Everyone has a different background. It would be foolish of me to say eliminate X from you diet if it is a staple in your everyday life. Secondly, write down you estimated budget for food/meals. This is a very important step. Another foolish thing would be to have families go spend a ton of money they do not have when they go to the local food pantry for assistance.
Ok we have the basis of what we need: favorite foods and budget. Next we need to discuss how to eat (not what, how). Let’s go back to gasoline and engines. Do you want to be at the end of the short run race track with no fuel or do you want to go on a long drive with only stopping to fill up a few times? This is how we need to look at food. With Diabetes it is important to eat meals and snacks at regular times each day. Also figure in your activity level. You need enough food/fuel to get you through to the next stop. Then eat healthy (we will discuss some options throughout.) Target 6 small meals a day.
To make healthy food choices here are a few things:
- Eat lots of vegetables and fruits. Eat as many different colors as possible. Choose nonstarchy veggies (spinach, carrots, broccoli, green beans)
- Whole grain foods (brown rice, whole wheat spaghetti, nothing that says “enriched’)
- Fish 2-3 times a week
- Lean cuts of beef & pork (cuts that end in loin are a good choice)
- Buy skinless or remove skin from chicken & turkey
- Choose non-fat or low-fat diary products (skim milk, nonfat yogurt, nonfat cheese)
- Water, Unsweetened Tea, coffee, and calorie-free drinks instead of drinks with sugar
- Small amts of liquid oils for cooking instead of solid fats
I love using the American Diabetes Association (ADA) website to help with educating. I used it to reference a lot of what I have taught and is written here. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planningmeals/create-your-plate
For teaching purposes, I usually purchase the plastic inexpensive plates that are divided into 3 sections. Most of those are the perfect size for the “Create Your Plate” meal plan. Now there is a ton more to teach but I believe this is enough for one post ? I will leave you with a place to start…. You should have a budget & favorite foods. Now imagine a plate in 3 sections. The Nonstarchy veggies is half of the plate. This equals a nice salad or 1 cup of raw veggies or ½ cooked veggies. The other half is split in two. Now a fist or deck of card size is all you need for protein. This is your meat section. The last section is your Starch or I call them grains. This is about the size of a computer mouse. Here you can have those items like potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, corn, etc. In addition to the plate you have Milk/drink and fruits. For a dairy you should really only have approx. 1 cup. The fruits are different and approx. size of tennis ball. Now you have a idea of the diversity of your meal.
Now take your list of favorites, split them up into the sections of your plate. Now take your budget and see what you can afford and where you want to make the most investment. Pick what is in season. If your favorite is strawberries and it is dead of winter then you will pay a hefty price. Keep that in mind as you plan out your meal. I like paper as it is easier for me to absorb (in my brain) so I use our local Kroger add, food ideas, and make a plan based on what is running special and what we have. This is what works best for my family. I’d love to hear what works for you and your family! I will post recipes and more diabetes information as I have time. This is the base for you overcoming the stigma of Diabetes. Start here and you will be amazed what you will learn about yourself!