Eating Successfully with Diabetes

PhoebeMD: Medicine + Poetry

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

In my last post, I introduced one of the fundamental elements of effective diabetes management, which consists of knowing and understanding important health indicators— such as your A1c, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Now I will discuss another important skill that will play a large role in determining whether your condition worsens or gets better in the future—and that is meal planning. 

For those who do not have diabetes, or have been told that they have pre-diabetes, you will find that this method is so simple and practical that you can easily incorporate it into your life to help you eat in a more balanced way. So let’s get started!

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What are the Benefits of Eating More Fiber?

 

It’s advertised on cereal boxes, bread and other foods, and it’s something we’re always trying to eat more of on a regular basis, but how many of us really understand what’s so great about eating more fiber?

It helps you to have regular bowel movements
Constipation is a huge problem for many people, and even those who eat a good diet often aren’t exempt from this problem. Adding more fiber to your diet will help to stabilize your bowel movements and make it much easier to go to the toilet regularly. Apart from discomfort, constipation can cause many problems within your body. Not only will your digestive system not work as effectively as it could, but you could end up developing hernias and other painful issues.

It helps to achieve a healthy weight
If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain your current weight, adding extra fiber to an already-balanced diet can really help you to reach your goals. Apart from losing weight, you’ll also feel less bloated and more energetic throughout the day, which will encourage you to continue eating healthier and will also provide you with the energy that you need to work out and exercise.

It lowers cholesterol
High cholesterol can be extremely dangerous, and people often don’t take it seriously because of how common it is and how many people suffer from it around the world, particularly in the West. A poor diet is usually the cause of high cholesterol, and if it’s left untreated for a long time, your arteries can become blocked and clogged, causing you to suffer from heart disease and other serious problems. Fiber helps to lower your cholesterol and maintain a healthy cholesterol level, thus preventing future health issues.

It helps to maintain blood sugar levels
While retaining blood sugar levels, it also helps with either improving or preventing diseases such as diabetes. Type 2 diabetes often develops in older people, especially if they are overweight or have had a diet of sugars and fat for most of their lives. Adding fiber to your diet while you’re young and eating it as part of a healthy and balanced diet can help to prevent the development of diabetes later in your life. If you are middle-aged and worried about developing diabetes, you can add fiber as one of the precautionary measures to try and prevent it from developing in the near future.

5 Healthy Eating Tips 

“Eat healthy”, “You’re not eating right.”, and” You have to eat smart” You get these messages on a daily basis but what exactly do they mean? Why is the world more obese than ever before, fatter now than at any other time in the history of mankind? If eating healthy and smart is so easy, why is everyone overweight?
Actually, eating healthy foods is not as hard as you may think. Sure, the sugar, salt and addictive, unhealthy chemicals added to your favorite foods make it very hard to resist them. But after you detox your body for 3 or 4 weeks, you will begin to form a healthy addiction to foods that are good for you. Practice the following 10 smart eating tips and you will quickly see and feel the amazing health benefits.

1 – Get lots of color into your diet
Reds, greens, blues, purples, yellows and oranges are colors that are present in natural foods. If you do nothing more than ensure that you eat lots of different colored fruits, vegetables, whole foods and grains, your risk of obesity and heart disease plummet, while your health skyrockets.

2 – Eat 5 to 6 times a day
Look, we are not talking about 5 or 6 typical modern-day meals. That would put you at 3,000 to 4,000 calories a day, and weight gain, heart disease and a shortened lifespan can almost guaranteed. Eat 2 or 3 main meals and 2 or 3 snacks, making sure that you eat something every 2 to 3 hours. Divide your recommended calorie intake by those 5 or 6 meals, and you keep your metabolism cranked up, burning fat and calories all day long.

3 – Limit your meat servings to 3 ounces
I know what you are thinking. You don’t to weigh everything you eat and you are right. Just envision a deck of playing cards. That same size amount of meat is roughly 3 ounces, and is all you should eat in a single serving to promote a healthy diet.

4 – Do not eliminate, just reduce
Hey, we all eat for pleasure as well as fuel. If you like high fat, sugary or salty food, do not give it up entirely. It is nice to reward yourself from time to time, and it can be healthy. Just do not overdo it. Reduce the amount of “less than healthy” foods in your diet, but there is no need to eliminate them.

5 – Remember that foods are not “bad” or “good”
No food is bad. Some are incredibly unhealthy, and even dangerous. But they are neither bad nor good. Your relationship with food is what can lead to bad or good levels of health. You should never feel guilty if you enjoy a slice of apple pie smothered in ice cream and whipped cream. If you like potato chips or a candy bar, good for you. Taken in moderation these foods can be enjoyed. Just remember to not blame food for the nutritional choices you make on a day-to-day basis.

How to Eat to Stop Emotional Overeating

When you think of stopping emotional overeating, does it seem like an impossible goal? You’re not alone – many people who suffer from this problem feel imprisoned and helpless. It can seem like you are unable to break free from the overwhelming emotions and habits. But there’s good news – it’s a treatable problem.

Being honest with yourself is an important first step. Emotional overeaters tend to judge themselves pretty harshly, but don’t – you’re not an isolated case or some kind of freak. It’s a sign of strength to seek help! It means you’ve identified the problem.

If you’re struggling with this problem, there are some things you can do to get things under control while you’re seeking professional help. Here are some tips.

Your Grocery List

When an emotional moment hits and you head for the refrigerator or pantry, what kind of foods do you usually go for? Often, emotional overeaters head for high-calorie comfort foods like ice cream, chips, or candy bars. But you can’t eat those things if they are not in your house! Here are some examples of foods to put on your grocery list in place of the ones you may be tempted to buy. (Another tip – buy only the foods on your list. Compulsive buying of food is tempting.)

* Brown rice (instead of white rice)
* Millet (instead of or in addition to rice)
* Fresh fruits and vegetables (rather than canned)
* Low-fat, low-calorie yogurt (rather than ice cream)
* Popcorn kernels for air popping (rather than chips and fatty snacks)
* Lean protein like fish, turkey, and chicken (instead of deli meats and processed meats like hotdogs and bologna)
* Natural, healthy cooking oils like olive and safflower oil (instead of shortening, lard, or unhealthy oils)

Don’t Crash Diet

It’s good to be proactive in solving problems, and emotional eating is no exception. If you try to crash diet, you may find yourself eating more after the crash diet is over. So, rather than stopping eating everything you love, try some of these tips.

* Allow yourself to have a dish of frozen yogurt each week as a treat. This approach tends to be easier than just cutting out all frozen treats. You could use this approach with other “naughty” foods, too – it may be easier to resist if you know you are going to have that food on Saturday (or whatever day of the week you choose to have a small treat).

* Boost your nutrition with a good quality vitamin and mineral supplement.

* Increase your consumption of nutrient-dense foods.

Eat Regular Meals

Experts recommend regular mealtimes as a way to combat emotional overeating. If it’s not “time” for food, then you may be better able to hold off on eating until it is time. Also, eating regular meals helps you to be deliberate about your intake of nutritious foods. And finally, having regular meal times tends to make for a more relaxed eating experience, which is the direct opposite of anxiety-driven overeating.

 

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Could You Have an Eating Disorder?

Do you find yourself gaining weight during times of stress? Do you fear boredom because you know you’ll simply eat to fill the time? These are just some of the symptoms of emotional overeating. If you think you may suffer from this relatively common eating disorder, here are some signs and symptoms that may help you identify whether or not this is what you’re struggling with.

Mindless Eating

If you have a binge eating disorder or emotional overeating problem, you may stuff food in and not even really taste it or realize what you’re doing. It’s as though you are “out of it” and just mindlessly stuffing food into your mouth.

Feelings of Guilt and Shame

Many people with emotional overeating disorders feel really embarrassed and hateful of themselves after they’ve got through with an eating binge. The problem, of course, is that these negative feelings may make you reach for more food for comfort.

Eating in Secret

Because of being embarrassed, may emotional overeaters will eat in private, reserving their “naughty” foods for when no one is looking.

Always on My Mind…

Do you think about food all the time? Do you feel anxious about the prospect of leaving the house without snacks or money to buy food? Constantly thinking about food (food obsession) may be a sign that you have an emotional overeating disorder.

Feeling Sick

Sometimes, emotional overeaters will eat and eat to comfort themselves, and then feel sick afterward. Obviously, this is your body’s way of telling you you’ve eaten far too much more than is good for you; but for emotional overeaters, this sickness does not necessarily deter the next binge.

Identify Your Triggers

Emotional overeating is usually triggered by something – emotions, yes, but sometimes we need to be more specific than that. Identifying your personal triggers can go a long way toward helping you overcome the disorder. Basic trigger categories include:

* Emotional – Eating to relieve boredom, stress, or anxiety

* Psychological – You may eat in response to negative, self-destructive thoughts

* Environmental/Situational – You may eat simply because the opportunity is there. Also in this category is the habit of eating while doing another activity, such as reading or watching TV.

Do any of these signs and symptoms describe you? If so, don’t despair – there are treatment options available for emotional overeaters. Check with your healthcare provider for advice on therapists or specialists in your area.

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