As a diabetic who is trying to lose weight, it is not only important what you eat and how much but what you eat together too. Foods react differently together and for optimal performance and the best effect on your blood glucose level, there are a few guidelines that should be followed.
At each meal, you should have a combination of carbohydrates and protein and you can have fat in moderation. The majority of the foods a diabetic will eat fall under the carbohydrate category, carbohydrates can be found in:
* Fruits * Vegetables * Beans * Dairy Products * Bread * Grains
To reduce blood sugars and lose weight, a diet where carbohydrates are counted and controlled is necessary. Depending on your weight and height your dietician will provide you with a number of carbohydrates that you can have at each meal. Some carbohydrates are better choices than others; choose fresh and whole wheat whenever possible.
Choosing carbohydrates that are high in fiber can help to reduce your blood glucose levels and will keep you feeling full for longer. Higher fiber content allows you to eat more an item without suffering the consequences later on.
At each meal, a small amount of protein will help counter-act the carbohydrate’s effect of raising blood sugars. Protein will also sustain you longer and you will not be hungry as quickly if you did not have protein at one of your meals or for a snack. Choose a high- quality protein that is not fried. Remove excess fat when it is possible such as chicken skin before eating.
Following a healthy eating plan with the correct number of carbohydrates at each meal combine with a protein can help you lose weight and manage your diabetes. Make time for exercising in your week too and you are sure to lose weight and have more energy.
Diabetes and Obesity can Cause Depression
Many people suffer from depression at some point in their lives and people with diabetes are no exception. If you are obese and have type 2 diabetes you may blame yourself and your lifestyle on the disease you now have. It is hard to adjust to a new lifestyle. Feeling down or guilty about this is okay and even normal but if it turns into something more you need to seek professional help.
It is normal to feel down about having diabetes in the beginning but once you learn more about the disease and how to control it you can also feel more in control of your life again. Take charge, if you are obese and want to improve your blood glucose levels you can. By eating a healthy diet and regular exercise you can lose weight and improve your blood sugars.
If your feeling of being down or hopeless will not go away and is accompanied by any of the following as well you may be depressed. If this is the case, contact your doctor right away.
Signs of depression:
* You are no longer sleeping like you used to (more or less) * Not enjoying life or everyday activities like you used to * No energy to do things you want or have to do * You are eating more or less or have sudden weight gain or loss
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you seek help. Being obese and diabetic can be trying both mentally and physically. It is important to know that you can take action to make things better. Your diabetes may never go away but you can certainly keep it under control and live a full life. By losing weight, even a small amount, you can make a huge difference in your health and diabetes.
Diabetic Diets – Consistency and Variety
It may sound like a hard thing to do – be consistent and have variety in your diet at the same time. But it is possible and it is the best way to control your diabetes with your diet. The consistency comes in at specific meal times and the same servings from the different food groups. And the variety refers to trying as many different foods in the food groups as you can.
It can be easy to find a few meals that work well with your blood sugars and are easy to prepare and just stick with them. You are more than likely to get bored with this and you probably aren’t getting all of the nutrients you need from a set amount of foods.
Whether you are on the carbohydrate counting diet or the exchange diet, you have a lot of room for flexibility. You can combine different foods together for something new or try foods you have never had before. You can meet with your dietician to get additional ideas for recipes and other foods that you can eat to add more variety to your diet.
There will be times that you try a new food and your blood sugars are higher as a result. Think back about anything else that you had done differently that day – less activity or taking your insulin later than usual. If the new food is the only change you experienced to talk to your dietician. You may be able to prepare the food differently or eat it with something else or you may have to avoid that food if it doesn’t work for your diabetic diet.
Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean that you can’ be adventurous and try something new, just do it at regular meal times and within the recommended portion sizes.
Easy Meal Planning for Diabetics
Meal planning is essential to a successful diabetic diet. It will prevent times when you don’t have anything ready for dinner and grab something that you probably shouldn’t be eating. The planning of meals should begin before you head to the grocery store in the form of a list and the meals you are going to make for those ingredients.
Once a week you should sit down and plan what meals you are going to eat and make for the next week. When you are making your meal plan, don’t forget to include all meals and snacks too. If you are hungry and know what your next meal is going to be you are going to be better prepared.
In the beginning, meal planning will take some time. Depending on what diet your are following (the Exchange Diet, Counting Carbohydrates, or the TLC Diet) you are going to have to get used to the foods you can have, the portion sizes and how they can be cooked.
Plan each day out in its entirety. Make it realistic; don’t plan to make lasagna on a night that you know you won’t be home until late. Save the meals with more preparation for when you have time and make extra so you can have left-overs when the time is tight.
When you are in the grocery store, do not go hungry. If you do, there is more chance that you will buy food that you do not need. Another trick while you are pushing around the cart is to only get what is on your list. If you are in line paying for your food and notice something that snuck its way in, put it back. This will not only make sure you stick to your meal plan but can save you money too.
Exercise and Diabetes
When you are a diabetic, exercise is will help control your blood sugar levels. But if you are overweight or obese and diabetic, exercise will also help you lose weight. As a diabetic, there are additional considerations and precautions that you need to take before you begin an exercise routine. And once you have begun, you always need to be aware of the risks involved.
It is ideal to wait before your exercise if your blood glucose level is too low or high. You can do more damage than good if you do not. It is especially dangerous if your blood sugar is on the low side and you begin to exercise. The physical exertion can cause your blood sugar to drop even further which can become an emergency situation. As a precaution, if you are exercising at a gym make sure the staff are aware of your condition and have emergency instructions and numbers to call. If you walk or run on your own outside, keep identification on you that advises you are diabetic along with contact phone numbers, a snack, and instructions.
For other tips on exercising with diabetes, you can follow the same guidelines that make sense for everyone else. Stretch before and after exercising, drink plenty of fluids, and don’t push yourself too hard. It is a smart idea to check your blood sugars before and after exercising and if you are feeling light-headed during your work-out check it then too.
As feet problems are common in diabetics, wear proper footwear and socks. If you notice any sores on your feet that are not going away on their own, see your doctor. If they are not healing they can lead to an infection and other related complications. Even though there are risks involved to exercising, the benefits make it worth it.
Free Foods in a Diabetic Diet
Even though there are free foods on a diabetic diet it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to pay for them. What it does mean is you can eat them freely without considering them an exchange or counting them as carbohydrates. These are the kinds of foods that you are going to want around the house in abundance for times when you are hungry and meal time is still too far away to eat.
Free foods have little to no effect on blood sugars and that is why they can be eaten in without counting them as part of a meal. Your diabetes educator or dietician will provide you with a complete list but here are a few items that are normally considered free foods:
* Water and other water-based drinks (such as coffee and tea) that are sugar-free * Bouillon (beef or chicken broth) * Sugar-free gelatin (flavored or not) * Pickles * Cream Cheese * Unsweetened cocoa powder * Rhubarb * Cranberries * Salsa
Many condiments are considered free foods too. When you are planning a snack or a meal add some of the free foods such as salsa or cream cheese for variety or extra flavor.
Depending on your dietician, he or she may consider most vegetables as part of the free foods group too. Vegetables that do not qualify include potatoes, corn, peas, and carrots as they are considered starchy and have higher carbohydrate content. If your dietician does allow you to have vegetables in between meals, make sure to clarify the kinds you can have and if there is a certain amount you should have.
A diabetic diet can feel restrictive at times. It is nice to have some items that you can have whenever you want without having to account for them in one way or another.
Good Carbohydrates and Bad Carbohydrates
A lot of diabetic diets and diabetic meal planning center around carbohydrate intake – the amount you can have and when you should have them. This is because they play such a crucial role in managing blood sugars. Too many carbohydrates or the wrong kind can cause high blood sugars. Not enough carbohydrates can cause low blood sugars or hypoglycemia.
It is recommended that carbohydrates make up about 40% of your daily calories, but not all carbohydrates are created equal. You also need to pay attention to fat and sugar content.
Here are some carbohydrate choices that should be made frequently:
* Whole grain cereals * Whole wheat bread and rolls * Brown rice * Whole wheat crackers * Raw or lightly steamed fruits and vegetables * Whole wheat pita pockets or wraps
Carbohydrate choices that should be made less often:
* Potato chips * White bread * White rice * Other foods that have been processed * Cookies * Easy to eat snacks
Carbohydrates are an essential part of every diet but make sure you are including the right kinds in yours. Good carbohydrates will fill you up and not create a sudden spike in your blood sugars. Bad carbohydrates are usually over-processed, create high blood sugars, create obesity and are high in sodium.
As carbohydrates are going to make up almost half of your daily food choices it is important to fill your body with high-quality choices. Choose ones that will give you energy and not cause you to gain weight. The less processed or refined a carbohydrate is the better it is going to be for you. Even when baking, choose unbleached whole grain flour. It doesn’t make a big difference in taste but it does in the quality of carbohydrate it creates. Try whole grain flour in pancakes, cookies and cakes.
High Blood Pressure in Obese Diabetics
High blood pressure is a concern for anyone but people with diabetics are more likely to suffer from it than others. If you are obese and diabetic, a high blood pressure can be deadly leading to a fatal heart attack. Like many health risks associated with diabetes, good control of your blood sugars, a healthy diet, and physical activity can help to keep your blood pressure in check.
If you are suffering from a headache, your vision is blurry and you feel light-headed or dizzy you may have high blood pressure. These symptoms are not just indicative of high blood pressure though and you should seek medical attention to determine the cause. Other times there may be no symptoms at all when you have high blood pressure or it may be slightly elevated. It is smart to have your blood pressure routinely checked at your doctor’s appointments.
When you are obese, the most effective way to reduce your blood pressure is to lose weight. Follow a meal plan that works for your diabetes, making sure you are consuming enough food, and can still allow you to lose weight. Other changes that you can make that will improve your blood pressure are:
* An exercise routine that is followed on a regular basis * Reducing stress in your life – meditation, yoga, letting go of some responsibilities * Quit smoking * Lessen the amount of salt you use for cooking or on your food
While you are making lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure your doctor may decide to put you on medication. If you have to take blood pressure medication it does not have to be forever. You can look at it as a short-term fix while you make the changes necessary to lower your blood pressure on your own.
High-Fat Foods and the Affect on Blood Sugars
All diets should use fat in moderation as it can lead to an unhealthy body weight and heart disease. For a diabetic, controlling fat intake is important for the previous reason in addition to the negative effect it can have on blood sugars. Fats can be put into many different categories – healthy, non-healthy, saturated, non-saturated, trans-fat, and more. But the bottom line with any of kind of fat is to enjoy in moderation.
When you eat food that is high in fat (for instance a cheeseburger), your short-term blood glucose reading may come back as fine. But since fat acts much like protein and it slows down the digestion of carbohydrates you may notice a higher than normal blood sugar many hours later. It is hard to plan for such a spike because it is quite delayed compared to other foods that are eaten that raise blood sugar.
The best advice is to choose natural, healthy, unsaturated fats and oils whenever possible. You can do this by reading your food labels carefully as the different kinds of fats are listed on most food labels. Excessive fat intake will also cause you to gain weight and that is another way blood sugars can spiral out of control. Extra body weight that you carry around is taxing on your systems and will affect how your body uses and needs insulin.
Healthy fat choices include:
* Avocado – oil or the fruit itself * Sesame, olive, or canola oil * Black or green olives * Peanuts and peanut butter (this doubles as a protein choice) * Sesame seeds
Additional fat choices that should be used in moderation:
* Butter or margarine * Walnuts * Salad dressings * Mayonnaise * Pumpkin and sunflower seeds
If there are any questions about a type of fat and what a serving size should be, contact your doctor or dietician for more information.
Keeping on Track with your Diabetic Diet
Once you have taken the time to plan your meals for the week including snacks and have gone grocery shopping you are all set for a week’s worth of healthy eating. Well, if you can stick to your plan and only eat the foods that you bought you will be. This is easier said than done though. Everyone needs a break from a strict eating plan, but you need to know how to get back on track and stay motivated to follow your diabetic diet.
Different people with have varying reasons as to why it is hard for them to stay on track. For some, it may be they are not giving themselves enough variety in their diet from day to day or even week to week. This is an easy dilemma, do some research by talking to other diabetics and your dietician for suggestions on how to mix up your eating plan.
If you are feeling alone and a bit resentful that you can’t eat what you want and when you want. You should consider joining a support group for diabetics. Not only can they help you through the times you want to cheat on your diabetic diet they can also provide emotional support. If you are the only person in you family with diabetes you may feel quite alone and if they are not supportive (and eat things in front of you that you cannot have) you also may feel angry. Talking to someone that has been through the same thing will help and provide the motivation that is needed to stay on your meal plan.
Sometimes money can be a factor in not being able to stick with a meal plan. The higher quality foods can be more expensive than the quick and easy convenience foods. Whenever possible, try and make foods that have been processed as little as possible like produce.