Happy National Diabetes Day, friends! If you read my Welcome Post, then you know that one of the major reasons I became a dietitian in the first place was because of my dad. He developed Type 1 diabetes when he was about my age. I didn’t fully understand this disease until it had manifested in him to the point of kidney failure. He passed away about 2 and a half years ago.
So! I’m here to spread the word and preach about leading a healthful lifestyle in order to manage (or prevent) this awful chronic disease.
First of all, we (as a society) really need to cut down on the added sugars in our food supply. Just because it can be added to make a food sweeter, doesn’t mean it should. For example, fruit. Fruit is an extremely healthful food containing a variety of nutrients including fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and folate, among many others. It also has NATURALLY occurring sugar. Therefore, there is no reason to add more. Fruit is naturally sweet on it’s own.
I think one of the problems with our food supply is that we’ve been so accustomed to these hyper-palatable foods for so long, that when we start to eat food in it’s natural form it doesn’t “excite” us in the same way that the processed crap does. Therefore, we tend to gravitate back to the processed, added sugar varieties, because that’s what our body craves [once it’s introduced to it]. The key is, though, we don’t have to continue that cycle. We can get it out of our system and never look back!
Second of all, it’s important to eat balanced meals to keep our blood sugars normal. When we eat a meal that’s only carbs or is really high in sugar, our blood sugar levels spike. The faster they go up, the faster they come down. Sugar crash, anyone? However, by including lean protein and healthy fats along with our natural carbohydrates (fruits, veggies, beans, yogurt, etc.) we can maintain that balance and prevent that blood sugar roller coaster ride. One of the reasons why it’s bad is because when our blood sugars crash, what do we want/crave? Sugar. Our body naturally wants sugar to bring our blood sugars back up into their normal range. Well, if we’re eating something that’s only sugar to bring it back up, what’s going to happen? It’s going to spike and fall, yet again, continuing the cycle.
Third of all, it’s also important to avoid skipping meals. Skipping meals, or going too long between meals, is a great way for our blood sugars to dip a little too low (making us crave sugar again, right?) and also slowing down our metabolism. Believe it or not, we actually need food to fuel our body and to keep our metabolism working like it should. Crazy!
I’ve found that for me, personally, it works really well to start my day low-carb and increase it slightly as the day goes on. Therefore a sample day looks something like this:
- Breakfast: eggs and veggies (there are a million variations to this, but this is the core meal)
- Lunch: usually a big salad with deli meat, chicken, hard boiled eggs, or tuna and an ounce of nuts with oil and vinegar dressing
- Snack (if I’m hungry): handful of nuts, protein bar, piece of fruit with an ounce of cheese
- Dinner: quinoa veggie bowl with protein of choice, or savory oats with veggies and protein of choice, or (if I’m too lazy and didn’t prep anything) a sandwich on sourdough bread with lots of veggies and lean protein
So in a “nutchelle“, eating balanced meals without a lot of added sugars is the key to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.