Managing Diabetes with Diet
- Tuesday, 01 September 2009
Of the 23.6 million Americans with diabetes, many receive little or no direction from their physicians about managing their condition. Most have never heard of the Glycemic Index and almost all are encouraged to use dangerous artificial sweeteners in sodas, juices, and desserts.
While a variety of wonderful resources are available for diabetics, the recommendations are deemed too general or too complicated.
The National Diabetes Association recommends eating fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats and poultry, dry beans or peas, whole grains, and low-fat skim milk or cheese. They also recommend avoiding foods with concentrated sugar and fat, and reducing meat intake while raising vegetable and fruit intake.
The American Diabetes Association teaches Carb Counting, meal planning, and provides information about the Glycemic Index (GI). The detailed information might seem complicated to an already overwhelmed diabetic.
Medline Plus offers an interactive meal planning tutorial with six general guidelines: eat a variety of foods; watch your calories; eat whole grain, fruits, and vegetables; maintain a low fat diet; limit carbohydrates; and don’t smoke. These recommendations aren’t specific enough for diabetics.
Extensive research on diabetes has revealed many ways to balance blood sugar level. Many are quite straight forward:
Eat several times each day. Three medium-sized meals and at least three snacks, spaced out every two to three hours will keep your blood sugar stable, metabolism high, and stimulate weight loss. Never leave home without a healthy, balanced snack in tow.
Start your day with protein. A protein-rich breakfast which may include free-range eggs, an avocado, or a smoothie made with yogurt, berries, cinnamon and milk is suggested. Protein eaten at breakfast leads to a sustained feeling of fullness and better blood sugar management throughout the day.
Every meal and snack must include a combination of protein and carbohydrate (e.g., crackers topped with tuna or almond butter). Never eat sugar, starch, vegetables, fruit or any simple carbohydrate without protein - this will cause a spike in blood sugar and induces cravings. Add protein in the form of nuts, quinoa, fish or chicken to salads.
Fiber, fiber, fiber. Eating foods high in fiber (at least 4 grams per serving) reduces hunger, promotes satiety and slows the absorption of carbohydrate from food. Soluble fibers (such as those in beans, oat bran, ground flaxseed and psyllium) are best.
The Glycemic Index/Glycemic Load is a diabetic’s best friend and an excellent weight loss tool. If you aren't familiar with it, check out www.glycemicindex.com. Eating food with low GI/GL scores helps to balance blood sugar, increase energy and promote weight loss.
If you’re Type II diabetic, try a chromium supplement. Chromium facilitates the update of glucose into cells. Without it, insulin’s action is blocked and glucose levels are elevated. Diabetics can supplement with 200 to 400mcg daily from chromium polynicotinate or chromium picolinate.
Specific ingredients and foods proven to improve blood sugar control include: cinnamon, lemon (squeeze fresh lemon juice onto everything you can), raw honey (unpasteurized), whole grains (quinoa, millet, brown rice), sweet potato, berries, beans, Jerusalem artichoke, and bitter greens (like beet greens or arugula).
Remove the chemicals (preservatives, colorings, artificial sweeteners, etc.) from your diet to help reduce the 'toxic load' delivered to your liver. Raw, organic vegetables and fruit and antioxidant-rich foods support liver function.
Try PGX. PGX is comprised of four extremely soluble fibers from seaweeds. It's also a prebiotic, improving nutrient absorption (such as calcium).
Maintain a food journal to help you identify foods and food combinations which leave you feeling satiated compared with foods that cause blood sugar fluctuations.
Take probiotics. An imbalance of intestinal bacteria can cause sugar cravings, making managing diet and blood sugar levels even more difficult. Take a probiotic supplement daily or include foods like organic yogurt (plain), kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut in your diet often.
Address emotional issues. Belief systems and negative thoughts can interfere with health. The psycho-spiritual connection to diabetes is described as a longing for what might have been, deep sadness, a lack of sweetness in life and a great need to control. Louise Hay, author of You Can Heal Your Life suggests the following affirmation: “This moment is filled with joy. I now choose to experience the sweetness of today.”
1] Murray, Michael & Lyon, Michael, Hunger Free Forever, The New Science of Appetite Control (2007), Atria Books: New York.
2] Hay, Louise, You Can Heal Your Life (2002), Hay House, Inc: California.