Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, is a three-time author, speaker, TV commentator, blogger, and creator of Positive Nutrition. She is also the designer of Healthy Apparel and the mother of two.
Feeding, eating, and food consume many of your daily thoughts, questions, and decisions. You may think, “I need to eat a clean diet.” You may even feel bad if you eat a processed snack. But what it comes down to is not overthinking, just simplifying. Read on to get the latest lowdown on nutrition and diabetes.
“Clean eating” is the latest buzzword. Clean eating is recognized as choosing foods without preservatives, added sugars, or added colorings, and is, of course, organic, local, and/or sustainable. Clean eaters typically choose extremely healthy foods based on their personal definition of a healthy diet/intake (for example, paleo, raw, lower carbohydrate/higher protein, low calorie, etc.).
Recognize that everyone has his or her own definition of health. Clean eating is fantastic, but, like any diet, it can become an unhealthy obsession if taken to the extreme.
All foods fit
Keep in mind, all foods fit and even all bodies fit. You need to eat foods and then determine if they make you feel well, full, and satisfied. Ask yourself, is your nutrition intake varied and adequate? In other words, are you getting a good variety of fruits and vegetables and are you eating enough nutritious substances daily?
You may realize that processed foods require more insulin. You may feel lethargic and non-energized after eating certain foods. Be your own detective, and choose foods based on how they affect your mood and body. Listen to your body.
In general, an easy guide is to eat wholesome, nutrient-dense foods about 75 percent of the time and lower nutrition, more processed foods about 25 percent of the time. Eating all foods allows for choice, flexibility, spontaneity, and emotional satisfaction. Think kale and cupcakes!
How and when
Yes, you can eat sugar. The saying goes, “A carb is a carb is a carb.” All foods really do fit. Counting carbohydrates is helpful to determine which particular carbohydrates and with what specific food (such as protein and fat) least affect your postprandial blood glucose. This can teach you how best to eat all foods, in conjunction with other foods, for your individual body.
Remember carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are all necessary nutrients that affect blood sugar. In general, carbs get the bad rap for raising blood glucose, but beware—even protein can raise insulin and blood sugar.
The general recommendation is to eat carbohydrates, proteins, and natural fats at each meal because the complex nature of proteins, and even more so fats, slows the rate of digestion and absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream. This slow and steady breakdown/release prevents both an insulin and blood sugar spike.
How many grams of carb in my meal? How should I mix carb, protein, and fat for the best blood sugar results?
Eat about every three hours and possibly pre-and/or post-exercise.
But most importantly, consider your psychological relationship with food. The thoughts and behaviors surrounding food and movement (exercise) largely determine how you practice self-care. Self-care is a lifestyle. And how you choose to live needs to be realistic because diabetes is life-long.
Empowerment, resiliency, and REALITY are three cornerstones to self-care. You must be realistic with your goals: any behavioral change toward health promotion and self-care is better than none. Identify your level of readiness and start there. Do not expect others or yourself to eat three meals a day when you only eat one meal daily. Instead, be realistic. Make a change and try two meals or one meal and two snacks. The guidelines set by authorities are ideal and optimal, but real life has work, stress, family, and hormones. Small changes truly have large and healthy effects.