#1 Go for colorful meals, go bento.
Standard western meals mostly consist of a whole pile of carbs along with a big piece of meat and maybe two alibi pieces of carrot or broccoli. So, usually you’ll only have 2 to 3 colours on your plate. It’s a pretty tough task to incorporate all the above advice in that kind of meal. Learning a bit about Japanese Bento lunches may help you to get out of that 3-colour routine. Bentos are Japanese style lunch boxes and there is quite an interesting nutritional tradition to them. The goal is to include at least five different colours thus ensuring that there will be a variety of fruits and vegetables in every lunch box/meal. Another guideline, which is given out by the Japanese government, is that a lunch box should contain 3 parts grains, 1 part protein and 2 parts vegetables. For diabetics it makes sense to go for a 25% carbs, 25% protein and 50% veggies ratio. Even if the Internet is abuzz with cutesy elaborate bentos, there is no need to get into Japanese cooking or learn to make your food look cute. Ain’t nobody go time for that, right? You can build meals based on bento principles with any foods you like. Even if it takes some practice, eventually sticking to these guidelines will make it a lot easier to include all necessary fibers and nutrients while also keeping carbs and portions in check.
#2 Eat regularly
If it’s dropping into a dangerous low, spiking your BGs way too high when finally having a meal and maybe overeating in the process because you’ve been starving, or it being suddenly a lot harder to anticipate the way your BGs develop throughout the day, skipping meals or taking your meals too irregularly can affect your BGs in many unfavorable ways. Even if the daily hustle often doesn’t seem to allow it, try to make sure your metabolism keeps humming by eating regularly. If your schedule doesn’t allow for a proper meal, stock up on snacks that fit with your unique dietary needs. It will make your BGs more predictable, make it a lot easier to calculate your required medicine dosage, and thus give you more control over your diabetes!
#3 Hydrate properly
One of the first signs of high BG is feeling abnormally thirsty. Your body is giving you quite a clear message here. By longing for an increased water intake your body is trying to flush out some of the blood glucose with your urine. Try not to let it come that far and make sure to drink a sufficient amount of water every day. For adults depending on height and bodyweight this means usually 2 to 3 liters spread throughout the day. If you are already very thirsty, try not to chuck more than a tall glass at once, but rehydrate with some intervals. Also, don’t forget to provide your body with some minerals/salts as well to prevent water intoxication.
#4 Get moving!
Light to moderate exercise has been shown to lower BG levels and boost metabolism. Go for a brisk walk, take your bike for a light spin or take a dip in the pool. Try to take at least 30min three days a week to get yourself moving. Be sure to consult with your doctor about workout plans to tailor an exercise plan which fits your individual needs. This is particularly important as for some people exercising too vigorously might even raise BGs. For instance this is the case for people whose BG is higher than 240 mg/dl and whose urine contains ketones. If your GP gives you a go, be sure to check your BGs before and after exercising to see if your insulin intake needs to be adjusted. Also, do take water for hydration and a small snack or glucose tablet with you during your exercise in case your BG drops too low. Re-consult with your GP after some time to check if your workout routine needs adjustment. Take it easy and give yourself some time. It’s important to find your personal balance.
#5 Keep track of your blood sugars!
You, your life and your body are unique! Your individual metabolism, lifestyle and events in your life ultimately affect the way your body reacts to dietary changes and medication. Even if you feel you did everything right and followed your GPs advice, you might still get unpleasant surprises when checking your BGs. Don’t see this as failure from your side. Again, you are unique! The best way to bit by bit gain more control over your diabetes is to check BGs regularly, in different situations and times of the day, and record your moods, meals and other factors which seem important to you with your readings. Understanding is key! Keeping track of the unique way your body reacts to different environmental factors and dietary habits is the best way of eventually understanding how to control and stabilize your BGs in the long run.
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