I believe that small food changes are the key to success. In this case, if you have diabetes, small food changes can improve dramatically your life.
Diets in which you can’t eat certain foods or have to do very drastic changes bring rebound in one way or another. Or because it is too difficult to be realistic and stick with the changes for a lifetime.
The key here is to keep in mind the food choices itself.
Small food changes to great life improvements
Don’t say that you can’t do changes because your wife is the one doing the shopping, or at home everyone just like certain not-so-healthy foods and you are not going to buy different things or cook different things just for yourself. Please, look at this previous thought for a moment.
I’m sorry for the rudeness, but you must see this in a better way: I am talking about healthier choices.
Choices that are for everyone! Small changes! You are the only one at home who has diabetes at this moment but you can’t forget that everyone at home is at risk to develop diabetes if they don’t take care of themselves now.
The following notes will show you what small changes you can do to improve your health and your life due to the positive impact that they have in your diabetes management.
Keep in mind that these are just small food changes. Baby steps to success!
3 main meals per day
In the past, I gave my opinion about snacking and how I feel about eating every x hours. You may think that eating every 3 hours is the correct thing to do to stabilize the blood sugars.
In this case, you are in fact stabilising your blood sugars in high levels because this is where they were before.
If you don’t give a rest to your body and your pancreas, your blood sugars won’t come down because they didn’t have the chance.
The pancreas, that great organ machine that all people with diabetes are angry with, needs a rest! Give yourself bigger fasting periods of time. Your pancreas will appreciate not being working in its best performance for 24 hours.
If you feel hungry before your next main meal, you will have to think about what have you eaten and what you can do different next time. Food choices are crucial here.
It is important to choose foods that will be slowly absorbed in the body. Think about foods full of fibre and more “complex”, meaning that they will be break down in your body slowly and consequently slowly absorbed.
If you use whole fat milk, try to change to semi-skimmed milk. If you are already using semi-skimmed milk, try skimmed or coconut or unsweetened almond milk.
Lowering the fat content of the milk will make major changes on your body.
If you think you are doing a good thing every time you have a porridge, you are right! But few hours later you are starving and you will need to snack again right before lunch. Now, your are not doing the good thing.
The trick here is to keep your porridge more complex, so your body takes longer to digest the meal and you won’t feel hungry until lunch time.
Yes, I have been there too! So, for porridge I would give you some tips:
- To begin with, if you normally use instant porridge change to the type of porridge where you can see the grain itself and also harder to cook
- To keep you on the go in the morning, soak the porridge in water in the previous night so it gets cooked quicker
- Here is the game changer, add:
- sliced fruit (small banana or ½ big banana, 1 kiwi, less cupped hand full of berries… any fruit you like (be mindful regarding the portions)
- Seeds (flaxseeds, sesame seeds… 2 tea spoons)
- Crushed nuts: 5 walnuts, for example
- You can always use low-fat natural yogurt (the less sugary one in the shop) instead of milk
- Be aware that muesli has lots of sugar due to the dried fruit in it, so swap to porridge or oats.
White? Brown? Thick? Thin? Bread choices are a very hot topic these days.
Regarding the bread there are two things taking into account: the portions and the type of bread.
Starting with the portions.
Size is everything in diabetes. If you eat 2 to 3 slices of bread consider to start reducing to 1,5 to 2 slices and so on. Reducing the portion at your own pace. I won’t consider the thickness of the bread for now, but of this is a concern for you , you can always try to go for the thinner sliced bread.
Now, the type of bread.
Rye bread is a good option. Once again, by these changes I mean that you can even try these changes more often in a week and don’t change all of the sudden for a regular day basis. If you ear white bread usually, change 1 day a week a better choice and keep increasing the number of days you eat the best and healthier option.
Changing to granary bread, the bread where you can see the seeds on it will make a huge change.
Normal sliced bread is full of sugars and other names that mean sugar.
How much fruits do you eat per day?
Listen to this podcast about fruit so you can understand a little bit more about fruit, quantities and fructose.
Keep fruit in your diet but think about reducing the amount of it. Fruit is healthy, but not if consumed in large quantities.
Stick with 1-2 pieces of fruit spread in the day and look for the portions of it.
Juices and soft drinks
This type of drinks should be vanished from all houses. And please don’t say that your kids love it and this is their normal drink at dinner. Basically, you are not helping your kids.
You are giving them all the tools to weight gain, insulin resistance and of course diabetes (which they already have in their genes). I still do not understand how Lucozade, which is an option for a hypoglycaemia, became a normal drink for everyone! Or any other soft drink, which has tons of sugar.
This kind of drinks, which should be consider as “party drinks”, are now part of everyone’s normal diet: from children to adults.
Reduce the amount of these drinks. Slowly, if you are drinking 3 bottles every day, switch to twice a day for a while, and then reduce to once a day and keep going. Drink plenty of water instead.
This is probably one of the most difficult things to do because sugar craves for sugar and this is a vicious cycle.
How do you know it is working?
Now, the best question: how do you know if the food changes you are doing are really changing anything?
Well, best way is to check your blood sugars before meals and two hours after meals.
If your blood sugars after meals are +4 mmol/L from the blood sugar level before meals, it means that your changes are still not 100% correct. But if it is within +2-3 mmol/L rise, your meal was ok.
You don’t need to check the blood sugars every day. If is fine if you do so a couple of times during the week so you have a better sense of your diet and the food impact on your blood sugars.
Break your vicious cycle and start today making your move to change.
My advice is don’t do all these changes in one go. Start small, but START… and FINISH!
You’ll see the changes taking effect in few weeks. You gonna start to feel better in general, more positive and better diabetes management outcome which, overall, will make you feel so good.