I love sweets, but I know I have to cut them from my diet…

Reconsider your definition of sweet

Diabetes nutrition doesn’t have to mean no sweets. If you’re craving them, ask a registered dietitian to help you include your favorite treats into your meal plan. A dietitian can also help you reduce the amount of sugar and fat in your favorite recipes. Don’t be surprised if your tastes change as you adopt healthier eating habits. Food that you once loved may seem too sweet — and healthy substitutes may become your new idea of delicious.

Late night snacks

If you love to have late night snacks remember to make the right choices.

Late-night snacks add extra calories to your daily intake, and this can lead you to gain weight. If you have a snack at night which is rich in carbohydrates you may wake up with a high blood sugar level.

So try to choose a “free” food, such as:

  • A can of diet soda
  • Five baby carrots
  • Two saltine crackers
  • One vanilla wafer

Or swap the snack for a piece of gum or hard candy. These “free” foods have few, if any, carbohydrates and calories, so they won’t contribute to weight gain or increased blood sugar.

If you take insulin or other diabetes medications and must snack before bedtime to prevent low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) during the night, talk to your doctor. He or she may adjust the dose of your medications to prevent the need for a late-night snack.

How to read food labels

A healthy diet is fundamental in your treatment plan. But how can you know what you are eating? Reading food labels is a recommendation that should become integrated into your daily routine, or at least whenever you are eating something which you are not familiar with. This can help you make good choices.

What should you look for first?
Pay attention at the list of ingredients. Remember that the list of ingredient is in a decreasing order by weight. The heaviest ingredient is the first and so on.

What should you choose?
Go for ingredients like whole-wheat flour, soy and oats, or monounsaturated fats such as olive, canola or peanut oils. These ingredients are good for your hearth too. You should also choose foods that are high in fiber. If an item has more than 5 grams of fiber you can subtract half of this from your counting of carbohydrates since fiber allows for better absorption of carbohydrates.

What should you avoid?
Try avoiding ingredients such as hydrogenated oil (or partially hydrogenated).

How to pay attention to carbohydrates?
Reading food labels is very important when it comes to calculating the carbohydrates in your eating plan. You should evaluate the grams of carbohydrates in total, not just the sugar.

What should you pay attention to?
Some extra labels such as “sugar-free” or “fat-free” may be misleading. Sugar-free does not necessarily mean less carbohydrates, so you should pay attention to the whole of the nutrition facts. Similarly fat-free food can be rich in carbohydrates. Therefore, you should compare labels before making a choice.

Be aware also that products with sugar alcohols (sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol) contain carbohydrates as well.

Remember to calculate…
The labels are written based on serving sizes. Pay attention to them and to the ones of your eating plan. Remember to double the calories, fat, carbohydrate, proteins and others if you double the serving.

Another useful piece of information is the daily value. The percentage is based on a 2000 calories per day diet. This may help you compare the food with the daily recommendations.

You have to set your own goals with your doctor and dietitian. Knowing how to read food labels will give you more chances to choose what you eat in a correct way.

Eating Plan

If you suffer from diabetes you need to have an eating plan in order to have the correct nutrients in moderate amounts and to eat regularly.

When thinking about a diet one may think about restrictions. But the diabetes eating plan simply organizes meals rich in nutrients and low in fat and calories. A large proportion of the meal is constituted by fruit, vegetables and whole grains. This kind of diet is suitable and healthy for any adult.

Why? The doctor may suggest for you to see a dietitian in order to organize your eating plan and help you with changing eating habits. The main goal is to control your blood sugar level and your weight. In modern societies we are generally eating more than needed and when you exceed in calories and fat intake your body reacts by rising its blood glucose. This can lead to complications. Controlling nutrition can help you avoid these complications, by maintaining the blood sugar levels in a safe range.

How? It is recommended to start planning your diet with a doctor or a dietitian. Talk to him/her in order to avoid frustration and to personalize your diet.

What else? An eating plan good for diabetes is also beneficial to other health related aspects. By following a diet rich in fiber, fruit and vegetables you will reduce the risk of other diseases (e.g.. cardiovascular disease, cancer).

Be aware: It is important that you follow the eating plan, but it is important as well that your eating plan is tailored on you (goals, lifestyle, body).

The right balance in nutrition is important!

Together with physical activity and treatment, healthy eating is one of the most important parts of diabetes management. Sometimes you may be concerned with specific ingredients that may affect your blood sugar level, but you must remember the overall picture. You shouldn’t be excessive with quantities and you should stick to a schedule. Here you’ll find some suggestions on how to balance your nutrition:
Keep to a schedule. Eating at the same time every day helps to maintain stable blood sugar levels. As you monitor your levels you should be able to recognize patterns: the blood sugar levels is highest after eating and decreases after a couple of hours.

Make every meal well-balanced. Try to cook or order food with the right mix of nutrients (starches, fruits and vegetables, proteins, and fats). Remember that carbohydrates are particularly important, and try to eat the same amount of them at each meal.

Eat the right amount of foods. Try to divide the food into portion sizes. Keep track of portions for your typical food thus to simplify the process. Be precise by using a scale or any appropriate measurement tool.

Coordinate your meals and medication. Be aware that if you are eating too little or too much this can be dangerous. You should also balance the quantity of food food you eat with your medication intake.

These suggestions could be more safely implemented in your routine if initiated with your dietitian or your doctor!

Since I have been taking insulin, I have the feeling that I am gaining weight. Is that possible?

Weight gain is a common side effect for people who take insulin — a hormone that regulates the absorption of sugar (glucose) by cells. However, controlling your weight is not only possible but also an important part of your overall diabetes management plan.

When you take insulin, glucose is able to enter your cells, and glucose levels in your blood drop. This is the desired therapeutic goal. However, if the number of calories you take in and your activity level result in more calories than you need to maintain a healthy weight, your cells will get more glucose than they need. Glucose that your cells don’t use accumulates as fat.

Weight gain may also be related to other complex functions of insulin in the body related to how cells use fats and proteins.

Eating healthy foods and staying physically active every day can help you prevent unwanted weight gain. The following tips can help you keep the pounds off:

  • Count calories. Eating and drinking fewer calories helps you prevent weight gain. Stock the refrigerator and pantry with fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Plan for every meal to have the right mix of starches, fruits and vegetables, proteins, and fats. Trim your portion sizes, skip second helpings and drink water instead of high-calorie drinks. Talk to your doctor, nurse or a dietitian about meal-planning strategies and resources.
  • Don’t skip meals. Don’t try to cut calories by skipping meals. When you skip a meal, your body is less efficient at using energy, and you’re more likely to make poor diet choices at the next mealtime because you’re too hungry. Skipping meals also causes large fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Three modest meals a day with healthy snacks in between can result in better control of weight and blood glucose levels.
  • Be physically active. Physical activity burns calories. A reasonable goal for most adults is a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderately intense aerobic activity — such as walking, bicycling, water aerobics, dancing or gardening — plus muscle-strengthening exercises at least two times per week. Talk with your doctor about activities and exercises that are appropriate for you.
  • Ask your doctor about other diabetes medications. Some diabetes medications that help regulate blood glucose levels — including metformin (Fortamet, Glucophage, others), exenatide (Byetta), liraglutide (Victoza) and pramlintide (Symlin) — may promote weight loss and enable you to reduce your insulin dosage. Ask your doctor if these or other medications would be an appropriate part of your diabetes treatment plan.
  • Take your insulin only as directed. Don’t skip or reduce your insulin dosages to ward off weight gain. Although you might shed pounds if you take less insulin than prescribed, the risks are serious. Without enough insulin, your blood sugar level will rise — and so will your risk of diabetes complications.