Diabetes often goes hand in hand with being lectured about diet. From people who know what they’re talking about, like your physician, to people who have no idea what they’re talking about, like whoever makes those ridiculous memes featuring unhealthy food paired with text that implies that food is diabetes.
The truth is, it’s hard enough to try to maintain a healthy diet when the advice you’re getting is coming from a trusted source who has your best interest at heart. But when you add in all of the people offering their unsolicited advice on how you should manage your diabetes? Well, it’s incredibly frustrating, and it can be really difficult to decipher who has a point, and who’s just full of it.
So, we’re here to help. We want to help you sort through some of the “tips” and “tricks” you’ve picked up throughout the years, so you can ditch the ones that may not be helping and focus on the ones that are actually doing you good.
Take a look!
1. Say “Goodbye” to junk food. Forever and always.
We all have our weaknesses when it comes to food. Whether you prefer salty snacks or sweet treats, there’s probably at least one food you really, really love that doesn’t pack the nutritional punch as, say, kale. And while it’s probably not the best idea to give into temptation every day, it’s important to avoid branding certain foods, or food groups, “forbidden.” When we tell ourselves we can’t ever have something, it’s the equivalent of being told not to think of a pink elephant. Suddenly, you can’t not think of a pink elephant. The point is: telling yourself you can’t eat your favorite foods is a good way to increase your desire for them.
Instead of depriving yourself entirely, focus on moderation. Allow yourself to indulge in moderation, but make sure you have a handle on what “moderation” really means. Is it a smaller portion of chips? If you’re doing this every day, you’d be surprised by how quickly the calories, fat, and carbs on one portion can add up over the course of a week.
2. All calories are created equal
While calorie counting can be a good place to start when watching your diet, it’s far from being the perfect solution. The most significant flaw is in its lack of consideration for the fact that not all calories are created equal. Ask yourself this: which do you think is better for you, a 100 calorie serving of an apple, or a 100 calorie serving of french fries?
Hopefully you said the apple.
When considering your diet, it’s important to evaluate overall nutrition. Make sure you’re examining the quality of calories rather than just the number. While calorie counting can help you get a handle on portions, it shouldn’t be the only factor upon which you rely.
3. Eating fat will make you fat
This is another great example of the importance of looking at quality. While a lot of fatty foods can increase cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease (think trans fat and saturated fat), some are actually good for people with diabetes. Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats (nuts, fatty fish, avocado, and olive oil), can actually lower bad cholesterol and promote heart health. Just remember that these foods are also high in calories and will still raise your triglyceride levels, so again, moderation is key.
4. Skipping breakfast is a great way to save yourself some calories
Breakfast is the meal that gives your body (and your brain) the energy it needs to start the day. It’s also pivotal in ensuring you don’t overeat later in the day. Further, because there’s so much time between the previous night’s dinner and lunch, skipping breakfast can signal to your body that it’s time to fall into fasting mode. When this happens and you finally do eat, your body is unsure when it will be fed again. This causes it to store fat to save for later in the event that food remains scarce. However, because you aren’t actually fasting, this can lead to weight gain.
5. It’s all about the juice cleanses and detoxing
While it may seem like a good idea to “detox” your body with a juice cleanse, you may be doing yourself a disservice. For one, juice cleanses are hard. Like, really, really hard. You’d be surprised how much you miss chewing when the only food you consume is in liquid form. Plus, the logic isn’t entirely sound.
While you’re ramping up on fruits and veggies, you’re actually denying yourself of their valuable fiber. And don’t forget: all those fruits contain sugar. When condensed into juice form, you’re looking at a pretty significant effect on your blood glucose levels. So, while the occasional smoothie can go a long way, it’s probably best to stick to chewing your greens!
L.D. and her eleven-year-old lab, Eleanor Rigby Fitzgerald, moved from Seattle to Grand Rapids earlier this year, and are currently enjoying exploring their new city! She likes books, music, movies, running, and being outdoors as much as possible.