When diagnosed with diabetes, often the first question people ask is: “What can I eat??” The good news is that your diet doesn’t have to drastically change. Living with diabetes is a matter of making balanced choices, practicing portion control, and following a meal plan to help keep blood sugar (glucose) levels in check.
Smart Strategies to Manage Blood Sugar Levels
Whether you have diabetes or simply want to follow a healthier diet overall, there will be some planning involved. It may seem like a lot to learn at first, but with a little time and patience, it can become second nature.
Keep these top tips in mind:
Plan Ahead. Living with diabetes means thinking ahead a lot: what foods to eat and in which combination, what time you need to eat to avoid low blood sugar, and so on. It only takes 10 minutes to plan your next day’s meals and snacks. It’s even better if you can plan a week at a time, as that will help with grocery shopping.
Diabetes-friendly snacks can be an important part of your meal plan. Thinking ahead so you have mini-meals and snacks on-hand can help support the balance of your blood glucose levels throughout the day. On days when increased activity levels are anticipated and hypoglycemia can be a risk, meal planning is essential.
Incorporating BOOST Glucose Control® nutritional drinks into a balanced diet as part of a medically supervised diabetes management plan is a convenient way to complement a meal or build a tasty snack into your plan when your schedule is hectic. BOOST Glucose Control® Nutritional Drink provides 190 nutrient-rich calories, with 16 grams of protein and 16 grams of carbohydrates.
For more protein and fewer carbs, there’s BOOST Glucose Control® MAX 30g Protein Nutritional Drink, which has 160 calories, 30 grams of protein and 4 grams of carbohydrates. Both can be tossed in your bag or purse for a quick, diabetes-friendly protein fix on the go or anytime. For a fun treat, blend BOOST Glucose Control® with ice in a blender for a milkshake-like delight.
Practice the Plate Method. Some people like counting carbohydrates, but if that isn’t your thing, consider the plate method. Both are helpful ways to keep your diabetes meal plans in check. The plate method is also great if you’re eating out and need to portion what’s already in front of you. Here’s how the plate method works:
Visually divide your plate into three parts: half non-starchy, fiber-rich vegetables such as a combination of romaine lettuce, broccoli, carrots or sweet peppers; one-quarter protein-rich foods like meat or eggs and one quarter fiber-rich carbohydrates, like fruit, brown rice or whole-grain bread. Lastly, don’t forget your beverage! This can be water or any zero-calorie drink like unsweetened tea, coffee or seltzer.
- Know that Portion Control is In Your Hands. A “handy” way to measure portion sizes when eating out is to use your hand. That way, you can estimate what is a standard serving of meat (palm-sized), a cup of cooked pasta or rice (the size of your fist), and much more.
- Learn to Read Labels. The Nutrition Facts label on food packages can be a very useful tool when you know what to look for. Pay attention to the Total Carbohydrates number as well as the Serving Size (you’ll find this toward the top of the label). Other handy numbers to know are fiber, since higher-fiber foods tend to slow spikes in blood sugar levels, as well as saturated fats, sugars and sodium, since you’ll want to limit those nutrients.
- Work with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Making healthy food choices, knowing your nutrients and timing meals to help keep blood sugar levels in control is a lot to learn. Find a registered dietitian who will take into consideration your food preferences and lifestyle- needs to create a meal plan tailor-made just for you.
Living with diabetes is manageable, and luckily there are a number of helpful online resources that are completely free of charge. Look to CDC.gov for guidance on meal planning, the plate method and carb counting; Diabetes.org for information about reading food labels and for quick meal ideas; and the Diabetes Food Hub® for recipes to fit any budget, skill level and dietary need.
*BOOST Glucose Control® and BOOST Glucose Control Max® 30g Protein drinks are Not a substitute for medication