The subject of eating habits is a versatile one, to be sure. Some individuals are content with just one meal a day, while others eat three full meals at specific hours, following their own personal schedules.
Most of the time, our busy lifestyle also has a strong say in when and what we eat.
This is already stressful enough, but when one throws a condition like diabetes into the mix, it gets even harder to manage our meals while taking proper care of that condition.
Of course, when one is first diagnosed with the condition, the #1 advice is to stick to healthy, regular, and balanced meals.
All fine and good, but reality can be very different sometimes, and once again it is our hectic daily schedules that are to blame. But one thing to remember is that in this case, there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all. Being diagnosed with the condition doesn’t have to mean an end of enjoyment of food.
So, let us take a look at a few very common examples which have an influence over our meal choice at that particular moment.
Meals ‘On the Go’
A great number of us find ourselves constricted to eat ‘on the go’ due to a hectic work agenda or family life. But this shouldn’t have to mean unhealthy, expensive meals and poorly-controlled conditions. Here are some tips we’d like to share:
Review the Day
It’s best to keep a diary where we write down the exact time and content of our meals. Also, our emotions at that time and any activity we may be doing. People need to try this method for a week. Trust us, it will aid greatly in learning the patterns concerning food choice.
Always Try and Make Time for a Nutritious, Filling Breakfast
Whoever first called it ‘the most important meal of the day, was positively right. And in case our morning happens to be as hectic as the rest of our day, we need to create the habit of making our breakfast the previous night.
It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, the keyword here is ‘healthy’. Here’s an idea: a whole-grain slice of bread topped with peanut butter and a nice, fresh apple.
We can grab our breakfast from a café (if we don’t feel like preparing it at home), just steer clear of the muffins of pastries (yes, even the skinny ones). There are plenty of other options.
Check the Food Labels
Always make sure to check the food labels and other nutritional information on any product which is on the grocery list. It’ll eventually grow into a healthy habit.
For lunch or an ‘in-between’ snack, pack a lunch box containing yummy, healthy things to munch on such as plain popcorn, fruit, boiled eggs, and certain types of crunchy veggies! A handful of nuts (unsalted) is also a good option.
Never Forget about Drinks
Those from cafés, while delicious, can be packed with unnecessary calories. Always ask for either semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, and skip the cream, sugar, and syrup altogether. Soon enough people will find they don’t miss those things at all.
Another excuse for failing to incorporate healthy eating habits into the day would be chaotic family life. We understand it can be really difficult, but this is just an invitation to introduce our whole family to some healthy nutritional changes. Here are some helpful tips:
- Involve the entire family in a fun, bonding activity: meal planning! People will also be saving some money as this way, knowing ahead what the whole household is eating, shopping lists can be more concise, and less food will be wasted;
- Speaking of shopping, if we happen to have any children, why not involve them? They are just as important family members when it comes to consuming healthy food. Also, this way, they can learn from an early age the importance of proper nutrition. And even do some math exercises by counting their carbs;
- Cook in bulk and store the leftovers in the fridge. That way, no food will go to waste, as ‘yesterday’s portions’ can just as well be ‘today’s portions’ too;
- If the weather’s nice, why not have a family picnic outside? Or maybe a barbecue where we can invite our friends and neighbors? An extra tip is to use recyclable cutlery and plates to avoid the major washing up we would otherwise have to do, which would add up to our stress;
- Stock up on canned and frozen foods, so we can whip up a quick meal that won’t take up much of our already hectic agenda;
- Be careful not to mindlessly snack on any of our family’s leftovers, especially since managing our weight should also be a priority if we are already someone who has diabetes. This includes having more than one biscuit with our tea, which is just excess caloric content with no nutritional value whatsoever.
It can be particularly difficult to have a proper meal when we’re working in shifts. Swapping night and day shifts confuse our natural biological clock. This makes it even harder to have proper meals at proper times of the day. Here’s what we can try:
- Bring our meals and any snacks from home;
- Prepare or freeze our meals beforehand, so they are ready to eat when we get home tired from work and not feeling like doing any cooking;
- Try and calculate which meals to eat when, if we happen to be doing a night shift. We can try eating our main meal before such a shift starts;
- Instead of lunging for one caffeinated drink after another, we’d do much better to keep ourselves hydrated with plain, freshwater;
- Feel free to talk to the manager. Explain to him or her that we might need to take breaks at certain hours to eat our meals;
- Consult with a professional diabetes healthcare team and devise a meal plan together. People might also hear some advice on whether we’ll need to adjust any medication or not.
If one happens to be a student, they know the feeling far too well of their world being turned upside down when exams start lurking around the corner.
Stress goes hand in hand with studying for exams. We realize that eating healthily may be the last thing students remember to do. But regular, nutritious meals can also help them focus, so try these methods:
- Include regular meal and snack breaks into the revision timetable;
- Start each day with a balanced, filling breakfast to ‘start the engines’;
- Keep brain-boosting snacks around, such as mixed berries, apple slices, bananas, and own DIY trail mix;
- Ask for help from the close ones. They can help prepare the meals during this hectic period when finding the time to cook seems practically impossible;
- Try and cut back on high caffeine amounts, and opt for fresh drinking water instead. No one wants to study while dehydrated.
Eating the right way is extremely important. But make sure not to forget any medication, even in the most stressful of times. Sometimes, a little bit of readjustment is in order to fit the current lifestyle.
Some Other Things People Can Do
Other than eating healthy and managing the stress, here are a few lifestyle tips for keeping the condition under control:
- Exercise – Now’s a good time to start as any. It doesn’t have to be anything vigorous like joining a gym or running a marathon. Even simple, leisurely exercises are enough to keep fit and healthy. Riding a bike or taking a nice walk, for instance. The goal here is about half an hour of mild sweating and harder breathing. It should be most days of the week; it doesn’t have to be every day if people find that is too much for them.
- Regular Checkups – People should never skip out on their doctor’s appointments. They should consult with them and the professional diabetes healthcare team concerning any questions and doubts people may have. They’re not alone in this, and they should always keep a watchful eye on their blood pressure, cholesterol, and A1c levels. A regular, yearly eye exam should also be one of their priorities. Some other possible complications they should get checked out for are nerve damage or foot ulcers.
- Quit Smoking – If one happens to be a smoker, we are sure we are not the first nor last ones to tell how important it is to try and give this nasty habit up. Diabetes already heightens the chances for plenty of other diseases, and smoking makes those chances much more of a reality. It can even make it harder for smokers to work out and stay active (something which is a must for proper health and management of the condition), so do yourself a favor and consult a doctor on how to quit.
- Limit the Alcohol – Limiting the intake of wine, liquor and beer can make it easier for people to keep control over their blood glucose levels. We are not suggesting to completely stop (as small amounts of alcohol can actually offer health benefits), but do take heed and limit to about one glass for women, and two at most for men. ADA claims overconsumption of alcohol may cause the sugar levels either to spike or to plummet, and we are pretty certain no one with the condition wants either option.
Remember, dear readers, those who have the condition do not mean they cannot lead a high-quality life. It all depends on making the right choices and getting rid of any bad habits.
We sincerely hope people found the information we have provided in this article of some use.