Although being diagnosed with diabetes may seem like the end to your days of indulging your sweet tooth, this is not always the case. Having diabetes shouldn’t have to stop you from eating your favorite desserts and sweet pastries.
With the right diet plan, and with regular exercise, you can find various ways to let in sweets back in your daily lifestyle.
The main key to allowing the incorporation of sweets in your meal plan is knowing exactly how to balance your intake. While research has so far proven that there may not be a sole, one-size-fits-all dietary plan for people diagnosed with diabetes, it never hurts to maintain a balanced diet through a number of ways.
In an article entitled the Truth About The So-Called “Diabetes Diet”, Amy Campbell, a nutritionist at Joslin Diabetes Center and co-author of 16 Myths of a Diabetic Diet, explains why it is wrong to completely erase sugar from one’s diet.
“The important message is that with proper education and within the context of healthy eating, a person with diabetes can eat anything a person without diabetes eats,” she states.
With that in mind, here are three simple yet very effective ways that you can do to manage your diabetes, while still maintaining your blood sugar:
1. Follow a low carb diet
Following a low carb diet with nutrient-heavy and high-fiber food items such as vegetables and nuts is the standard dietary plan for people with diabetes.
Since diabetes entails that there are problems in your body’s ability to process carbohydrates—which later turn out to become blood sugar—food items that are high in carbohydrates practically equate to a rise in blood sugar levels.
This is why most researchers consider the maintenance of a low carb diet over the long term as the most recommended diet suggestion for diabetics, as this can balance your blood sugar to a healthy level.
In order to follow a low carb diet, you need to create a meal plan focusing more on proteins, healthy fat, and vegetables, and by limiting your carb intake. Popular low carb diets such as the Atkins diet are examples of eating plans that help you cut carbs while still getting your calories and nutrients through other foods.
Examples of foods you can eat when following a low carb diet are meat from grass-fed animals, poultry, seafood, eggs, cheese, and non-starchy vegetables.
It’s important to note though that the ideal carb intake per person varies, as there are three determinants of this such as weight, one’s physical activity, and one’s medication or insulin they are taking.
Although some studies suggest that a 20- or 30-gram carb intake per day can provide great results in blood sugar control, it’s important to check which works best for your body by checking your glucose levels after meals.
The number one thing to keep in mind about going on a low carb diet is not erasing carbohydrates completely but maintaining a healthy balance through high fiber food.
2. Carbohydrate counting
Another way you can keep track of your carb intake—and, in turn, your blood sugar levels—is to determine your recommended carb intake per day, and adjust your meals accordingly.
According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, the one good thing about this method is it allows you to make your own food choices, so long as you follow your prescribed carb intake with healthy eating.
This is seen more effectively, for example, if a person who is allowed a carb intake of 180 grams per day—keeping in mind his weight, height, medication, and other blood-sugar related complications that he may have aside from diabetes—he decides how he will spend this throughout the day, so his glucose levels are maintained.
The Mayo Clinic also states that swapping a high-carbohydrate meal with lower carb content is one of the secrets to being able to include a sweet in a meal.
This means that if a person is allowed 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal, he decides whether he can insert a brownie with 30 grams of carbohydrates, with a 30-gram carbohydrate meal. In order to know the total carbohydrate count, some food items lists this on their corresponding food labels.
However, it’s important to be reminded that with such a limited space for carbohydrates, you should try to minimize your intake of sugar-containing foods that have a lot of fat such as cookies, ice cream and cakes, since they don’t have much nutritional value.
While they can still be inserted in your meal plan every now and then, you should make a better choice when eating sweets and try to avoid desserts that have empty calories. Some substitutes to these are sweets that are low-fat such as yogurt or graham crackers.
It would also be recommended to cut down on soda, soft drinks, and juice, as the sugar content found in these drinks outweigh the pro’s of other substitutes such as sparkling water with a twist of lemon for a natural sweetener.
The key to incorporating sugar into your meals is to always keep it in moderation and to know which ones are most worth it.
3. The plate method
If you prefer a simple method that does not involve any counting or other tools, Healthline suggests the plate method for keeping track of how much you eat. The plate method highlights portion sizes, rather than carbohydrate count.
The plate is partitioned into three specific and separate portions for non-starchy vegetables, whole grains or legumes, and lean proteins. If you prefer to add some kind of dessert to the meal, you may complete the course with whole fruits, healthy fats, and low-fat diary.
In order to recreate this method, one must grab a plate and halve it with an imaginary line. The first half or the largest section of the plate in this method will be comprised primarily with non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, green beans, broccoli, and tomatoes.
For the second half of the plate, partition this into two equal sections. The first section will be filled with starchy foods such as whole grain foods, beans or legumes, oatmeal or cooked cereal, and even potatoes and corn. For the remaining section, you can put meat, seafood, or even a meal substitute if you’re a vegetarian.
With that, you have partitioned your meal into three separate portions in one plate in order to get a healthy and balanced meal. You may even finish it off with a low-fat dessert or with healthy fats such as nuts and seeds, if you wish.
Other ways to help keep diabetes in check
These are only some of the ways that you can practice to incorporate sweets back in your life. If you’re interested in making healthy choices regarding the food that you eat, you can always refer to a professional’s opinion or consult a dietician to help you craft a dietary plan that is in more in line with your body’s needs and lifestyle.
These ways only showcase some of the options that you could follow, so you don’t have to completely give up on sweets just because you’re diabetic. Though these diet plans can help you in making healthy food choices, it’s important to remember that these will not work as well if not paired with regular exercise and quality sleep.
Doing various forms of exercise can actually normalize blood sugar levels, and can even help you in weight loss. So if you’re interested, you can try cardio activities such as walking, biking, and the like for diabetes management.
In fact, engaging in regular physical exercise is considered one of the most essential things you can do to help fight diabetes.
Other things to keep in mind to manage your diabetes are also to check your stress levels and to always keep track of your blood sugar levels, as these can later help you in knowing how to ultimately control them.
Further reading on dealing with diabetes naturally
Want to find out more about how you can prevent and reverse diabetes naturally through food, and without drugs? We recommend Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s acclaimed book The End of Diabetes.
In the book, Dr. Fuhrman, a bestselling author and M.D. Research director of the Nutritional Research Foundation, outlines a breakthrough plan to help those suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease with a healthy diet that can be adapted to the individual’s needs.
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