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It was somewhat difficult for Susan to come up with a “typical day” of eating when asked by the dietitian at her first nutrition appointment.
Before being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes Susan had not given a great deal of thought to what she would eat in a day except for planning dinner for her family. She often began the day with a cup of coffee running out the door to work. She never felt hungry for breakfast so not sitting down to the meal felt like a time saver. At work, the break room often had goodies brought in by coworkers. Break time found Susan hungry for something, and something was usually in a pink box on the staff table. Lunch time was 30 minutes of finding something quick to eat. Generally lunch was fast food, a deli combo meal or a Chinese takeout to eat at her desk. At mid afternoon Susan felt sluggish more often than not so a trip to Starbucks for a frappuccino was a common occurrence. Her drive home was long enough to warrant a stop at the vending machines to provide her with “something salty” on the ride home. Dinner time at Susan’s house was frequently fresh or frozen fast food in the form of pizza, fried chicken or hamburgers. Her husband liked to grill on the weekends. Susan used to enjoy cooking before the kids schedules became so full and they no longer sat at the table to eat as a family. Susan told the dietitian that she needed to be more organized to enjoy cooking for her family again.
After: One month later at her follow up nutrition appointment Susan told the dietitian that she had discovered that not only she but her family expressed a desire to eat less prepared and fast foods and begin eating more fresh cooked meals. Susan sat down with her husband and teenage daughter and made a list of all their favorite home cooked meals. Time was a real concern. Time to shop, prepare and cleanup after breakfast and dinner meals. Between Susan, her husband and daughter they had decided to divide and conquer the efforts in the kitchen. They made a list of food items to buy for the week to prepare the meals they decided on. They discovered the key was to stick to the list and to the planned meals so no food was wasted.
Susan learned from the dietitian that her entire family would benefit from eating the way she now wants to eat to help control her diabetes. Her focus is more fresh whole foods rather than processed prepared foods at meals and snacks. The focus is also on the amount of food eaten at meals and snacks especially the carbohydrates.
Susan found that she could figure out the portion size to eat by testing her blood sugar before and two hours after her meals. The dietitian was clear that avoiding foods, such as carbohydrates, was not necessary. But understanding how much to eat was the key. If Susan’s blood sugar increased by only 40 – 50 points then she knew the amount of carbohydrate was the correct amount for her body to handle. An increase much more than that told her to reduce the portion size next time. She experimented with different types of food and the amounts ( such as grapes, watermelon, ice cream, pasta, rice, cookies) and found that when she ate smaller portion sizes she could enjoy all her favorite foods as long as she got the portion size right for her glucose control.
Now Susan’s “typical day” of eating looks like this:
Breakfast – a cup of coffee and a yogurt because she finds it easy to eat. She now knows it helps her blood sugar control by “breaking the fast” and shutting off the liver’s need to dump glucose into her bloodstream during the fasting state.
Morning break – cheese stick and fresh fruit brought from home and occasionally a treat from the break room but usually she’ll split one.
Lunch – bringing lunch seems to be the best option for Susan but some days eating out is necessary. A packed lunch may have dinner leftovers or a sandwich with fruit and veggies. Lunch out maybe a fast food salad or fresh wrap.
Afternoon snack – crackers and peanut butter or a Starbucks Lite Frappuccino when she really wants it!
Dinner – the plate method helps Susan with portioning out her carbohydrates. Her plate is half full with vegetables and the other half divided between starch (rice, pasta, potato) and meat or fish. This helps keep her starch portion in check because of all the foods on her plate, it has the greatest effect on her blood sugar.
Susan has always had a sweet tooth but she has found that making healthier food choices all around has really changed her desire to eat sweets. But if she wants something she will eat a smaller amount and make sure to enjoy every morsel!
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