If you are diabetic, in theory there is nothing that stops you from doing everything you used to do before you had diabetes. But in practice, you will have to make some lifestyle adjustments to manage your disease well such as controlling diabetes with a good diet.
In controlling diabetes with diet, one should keep in mind that there is more to treatment success than whipping the pantry into shape. The first is keeping a consistent watch on where your glucose levels are. Next is to find some ways to come up with a good diet and eventually help you control your diabetes.
Start at Home
Even though you are the one with the diabetes diagnosis, your whole family needs to make some adjustments to living with the disease. A healthful lifestyle matched with a good diet that promotes good blood glucose control is the best defense against diabetic complications. And the good news is that it is a great prescription for everyone around you as well.
Do not try to go it alone. The changes that diabetes brings to the dinner table can be positive ones for the entire family, particularly if your diet before now has been less than stellar.
Exercise is also a healthy choice for the whole family, both physically and on a psychological level - the family that plays together stays together.
Also, while kids should be able to enjoy the occasional treat that is not regularly on your meal plan, such as cookies or jellybeans, stocking up on junk food is not healthy for you or them. You do not need the temptation and they will be better off with more balanced fare. Limit treats to special occasions like birthdays or Halloween.
Start Out Slowly
Try limiting restaurant food to once a week and encouraging healthier menu choices. Instead of mandating "no junk food" off the bat, allow one selection of their choosing to be kept in a cabinet you do not frequent. Above all, work to provide lots of healthy, fresh, and good-tasting alternatives so the change is perceived as a positive one.
If your family members have a favorite food that is a no-no for you, only keep it on hand if you are sure it would not be calling you from the cupboard. Remember, you are not an ogre for requesting that Lucky Charms, Moon Pies, and potato chips be kept out of the pantry. No matter what degree of pouting and resistance you face from your spouse or children, stand firm. Bypassing these treats would not harm their health; having them could very well hurt yours.
A meeting with a registered dietitian is an absolute must for anyone with diabetes. A good health expert will explain the mysteries of exchanges and carbohydrate counting to you and will work with you to create a meal plan that works with your lifestyle.
Parents cooking for a child with type 1 diabetes will have a whole different set of concerns and dietary issues than, for example, an adult with type 2 who wants to learn how to eat for better control when he is out on the road.
Whether you are using carbohydrate counting or exchanges, your doctor will try to spread out your carbohydrate intake more or less evenly throughout the day to promote blood glucose balance. Again, your dietitian will work with you to come up with an appropriate amount of exchanges or carbohydrate grams, protein, and fat intake. He may also suggest other dietary guidelines based on your health history, such as low sodium if you have hypertension.
Diabetes Food Pyramid
Controlling diabetes will be a lot easier if you have a good diet to follow. And the most important guide you need to facilitate this is to know the diabetes food pyramid.
It is important to include a variety of vegetables, grains, fruits, and other nutrient-dense foods in your diet. Health experts suggest a slightly modified version of the recommended food pyramid as guideline for daily servings. The only difference is that starchy vegetables are moved out of the vegetable portion and down into the breads at the base of the pyramid with the rest of the starchy-heavy foods.
The general guideline should be:
1. Breads, legumes, grains, and starchy foods intake should be 6 to 11 servings
2. Non-starchy vegetables: 3 to 5 servings
3. Fruits: 2 to 4 servings
4. Milk and yogurt: 2 to 3 servings
5. Meat and meat substitutes (proteins): 2 to 3 servings
6. Fats and sweets: Use sparingly
So the next time you plan your diet, keep in mind that your goal is not to eliminate the disease. As you go along, you will learn how to control diabetes with a good diet. It is more of keeping the culprits away from your kitchen so you can stay healthy and live longer.
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