Amy Tenderich was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May of 2003. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Diabetes Mine and co-authored the book Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes. You will frequently find her speaking at diabetes, health, and social media events across the country.

Carbohydrates comprise the main source of energy for your body, but eating too many can overwhelm your sluggish insulin response system. That’s why it’s important to spread out your carb intake throughout the day rather than loading up on them all at once.

The trouble is that so many of our typical meals contain far too many carbs—and excessive fat too: chili with French fries, spaghetti with garlic bread, cereal with toast and juice. These are all examples of all-carb meals.

What's a balanced meal?

Everyone talks about eating balanced meals, but do you really know what a “balanced meal” is? It’s a mix of carbohydrate foods alongside protein and fibrous foods like beans and vegetables—ideally not too much of anything at one sitting.

Achieving balance means learning to “mix it up” a little. It helps to keep thinking about places where you can swap a healthy protein choice for one of those high-carb choices. For example, instead of high-carb breakfast cereal with fruit and yogurt, try scrambled eggs with a little fruit and yogurt on the side. For dinner, instead of pasta with garlic bread, try a lean meat accompanied by a slice of bread or two (not more).

About breakfast: it is true what they say about it being the all-important first meal of the day. Eating breakfast jump-starts your energy and your metabolism (your body’s food-processing system) for the day. Research studies even show that people who’ve successfully lost weight and kept it off for over a year are those who consistently eat a reasonable, healthy breakfast every day.

Other Tips in This Series:

Tip 1: How to Recognize a Carb
Tip 2: There Really ARE Good and Bad Carbs
Tip 4: How to Learn and Practice Carb-Counting
Tip 5: What a Nutritionist Can Do for You