In need of a plan.

I have a pretty stressful few weeks coming up here. The Super SEAL team triathlon is this Sunday, Tour de Cure is 10 days away, and work ain’t slowing down. Combine that with a few (VERY) early morning news appearances for Tour coming up, and I’ll be short on sleep and high on energy needs. Which is why I thought to myself on Sunday (after the most delicious berry crisp on the face of this planet): “I need to make sure I eat healthy these next two weeks, so I have the energy I need to get through them and stability in my blood sugars.”

The funny thing is, I’m not really sure what “eating healthy” means to me these days. As a person whose diet has major short and long-term implications to her health, I am more food-conscious than the average person. I know carb and calorie counts like the back of my hand, I generally choose nutrient-rich meals made from fresh, unprocessed ingredients, and I’m conscious of what any and all carbs can do to my body. So what changes would I make to “eat healthy” this week?

I’ve been hemming and hawing about my food patterns for  a while now, because I’m troubled by the fact that I don’t have a “plan.” I don’t follow any super-specific rules, such as “I only allow 30 carbs per meal,” but instead I generally count my carbohydrates and try to eat healthy more often than not. But there’s no structure to that, and nothing that stopped me from killing a Nerf-football sized lobster burrito last Sunday. With my current “plan,” I allow indulgences because I’m convinced I eat healthfully most of the time. But I wonder what a logbook of my diet would truly reveal – am I really as healthy as I think?

Back in the day when I was first diagnosed (December of 1992, to be exact), there were specific meal plans outlined for people with diabetes, hinging off of the “exchange” method of food values. This practice gave way to the more accurate carb-counting that is taught today, but along with the freedom of carb-counting and covering with insulin came endless meal options. If diabetes management is simply counting the carbohydrates and using an insulin-to-carb ration to adjust, then whose to say any rules should be followed? Of course, people with diabetes know that restricting carbohydrates can help with diabetes management because small amounts of insulin = small errors = easier management.

The downside to all this freedom though, is it leaves me without a plan. I know the general principles of eating healthfully: lean meats, whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables, limit bad fat intake. But nothing about those principles addresses the diabetes and carbohydrate dynamic. An apple and a piece of chocolate can have the same amount of carbohydrate, and even though the apple has more nutrients, what does it mean for diabetes management if it affects my blood sugar the same way?

If this post sounds confusing, it’s because I’m confused. Should I have more of a plan – more rules to follow that will help me feel better and keep BGs more stable? Any suggestions or thoughts on this issue from you readers? What are your diet rules or guidelines?

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Comments

Disclaimer: I ain’t no CDE or nutritionist, just a fellow traveler battling “The Diabetes”. I’m in the same boat as you, feeling I eat ‘healthy’ most of the time. I found the apple NOT EQUAL the chocolate carbs driving up BG has more to do with the glycemic index of the foods, and the high fiber in the apple means slower absorption than the chocolate, and fructose+pectin trumps sucrose+fat. So try a dark chocolate dipped apple :-) My Achilles heel is sushi – the white rice with added sugar just drives BG straight up, high and fast, with the vinegar having a negligible moderating effect (although in most foods vinegar tempers the carb intake). I like sashimi, but love sushi. “All things in moderation” – and moderation in moderation.

I try and follow the 2:1 rule of carbs to protein ratio. The protein is supposed to keep your blood sugar in check. I don’t remember why but it seems to help. And fiber helps counteract the carbs as well.

I try to keep all CHO’s to under 35 per meal. Most of the time, I am under, but I always load up with veggies (mainly steamed or raw) and LOTS of fruits (such as apples, never bananas or raisins) Although the 3 Muskateers Dark Chocolate mint candy bar I will exclude for today. ;)

Another thing that helps keep me stable, besides the protein, is cinnamon. I don’t know how or why..it is something I’ve been doing forever. I love to put some on my apple (Apple cinnamon, mon!) if I don’t use peanut butter (which I know is super fatty, but mmmmm delish.)

Hopefully that helped and didn’t confuse you further!! Good luck!!

I’m weird and I pretty much always eat the same things everyday. I even did this before I was diagnosed. It helps me keep my BG stable throughout the day. Part of my routine is I eat every 2-3 hours. If I have a day where I wake up earlier for work or to ride I maintain the 2-3 hour rule and I always have food with me. It doesn’t always work becuase as routine as I am, diabetes likes to throw curve balls at me. Of course I adjust with more or less carbs and/or insulin when this happens. In general eating about the same food at about the same time of day helps me.

Thanks for all the help you guys – this is really good information! I appreciate it so much – thank you thank thank you!

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