Ben Peay, RN at Utah Valley Diabetes Management Clinic breaks down what it means to eat a diabetic diet.
1. What is a diabetic diet?
People with diabetes should eat a healthy, balanced diet. We want people to have carbohydrates, protein and fat but in the right proportions. They shouldn’t have a list of foods they can and can’t eat. The idea is that they stay within guidelines that help keep their blood sugars in a normal range. I brought some foods that could be included in a meal plan for people who have diabetes. This includes things like bread, potatoes, and even sweets. Some of these foods are foods that I call “occasional foods.”
2. What is an “occasional food?”
An “occasional food” is a food that probably shouldn’t be eaten every day. The problem is people will tell themselves they shouldn’t eat something and that they won’t ever eat it again. Diabetes never goes away and it becomes very difficult to stay away to the point people will give up and eat what they have been missing and “burnout” and fly off the handle and eat everything. By allowing yourself to have something occasionally, it’s easier to say, “I don’t need that today because tomorrow I am going to have this.”
3. How do you make “occasional foods” work?
It’s very important to plan ahead in order to make occasional foods work. If you don’t have a plan and wait until you get hungry, you’re likely to find things that don’t fit with your meal plan, or you get carried away. If you have a plan you can figure out where to place “occasional foods” to prevent blood sugars from going too high.
4. How do you know what your guidelines should be or how much you should eat?
It is important to talk to you doctor and usually meet with a dietitian or nurse educator for help. They can work with you to set up a meal plan that can help you to have good blood sugar control as well as to be healthy. It’s also important to work with others in the family and work on doing things together rather than have one person eat one way and everybody else eat another. It’s important to realize that people with diabetes benefit from healthy eating, but so does everybody else. Just because you don’t have diabetes doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of yourself. Sometimes we pick on people with diabetes when we all should be doing things to keep us healthy.