Blood Sugar Diet:
The Low-Down on Lower Blood Sugars
So you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. You may be asking several questions. Blood sugar diet? What does that mean, exactly? What am I allowed to eat? Do I have to take medicine? Do I have to stop eating the things I like? HELP!!!
Well, don’t panic. It’s going to mean changing some things about how and when you eat, but it’s not the end of the world. Keep reading for a short run-down of some diets that you may want to look into.
THE Blood Sugar Diet
There is actually a diet called The Blood Sugar Diet. There is a book and an online course. It focuses on eating only 800 calories a day for 8 weeks. If you’re like me and saw “800 calories” and instantly wanted to run away, bear with me.
The diet is flexible in that you have the option to eat 800 calories for 2 days a week, OR eat only during an 8-hour window every day and fast for the other 16 hours. The rest of the time, you’re eating the “Mediterranean” way. (Discussed below).
The odd thing about this diet is that it’s NOT truly for diabetes… It’s meant for quick weight loss and ONLY for 8 weeks. It’s not a lifestyle change, it’s just a diet. Whenever you lose weight, your blood sugar levels will improve. That is a simple fact that this diet is taking advantage of and using to sell copies.
There is a quiz on their website (here) that will guide you in selecting the program that’s right for you. When I took it, it suggested that I should not use the diet. Why? Because I have Type 1 Diabetes. So, no Blood Sugar Diet for the diabetic… does that seem odd to you? Me, too.
The Mediterranean Diet
This is not so much a “diet,” but a way of eating based on the way people eat in the Mediterranean region of the world. This is a heart-healthy way of eating that helps you to lose weight and stabilize blood sugar levels.
The Mediterranean blood sugar diet promotes a lifestyle change. They recommend eating a plant-based diet, but also adding fish, chicken a few times a week and limit red meat. They also suggest you drop saturated fats and opt for olive oil.
Also suggested as part of this diet is daily exercise. Whether it be walking, jogging, running, dancing, swimming, or whatever your favorite activity is. It’s just important to stay active.
The people in Greece (part of the Mediterranean region) generally eat a high amount of fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), and pasta. They don’t eat a lot of red meat, and they drink red wine (it’s debatable if red wine is “good” for you…drink in moderation!).
Glycemic Index: The Low-Glycemic Blood Sugar Diet
You may have heard of the Low-Glycemic Diet, or the Glycemic Index. To summarize, it is a rating scale on which different foods are rated based on how quickly they raise your blood sugar level. The lower the number, the “better” the food, the higher rated foods should be avoided.
This also is not really a DIET, but a way of eating and a lifestyle change. The general consensus from the Nutrition Science community on the Glycemic index is that this is a tool that can be used to help judge and distinguish “good carbs” from “bad carbs.” It should be taken with a grain of salt and just used as a general guideline.
This rating system only rates single foods when eaten on an empty stomach. It doesn’t consider the other combinations of food items that you could be eating in your meal, so it’s not completely reliable.
When you eat carbohydrate with fat and/or protein, the fat/protein slow the absorption of the carbohydrate. This prevents spikes in blood sugar levels and keeps them stable. So even if you eat a food that is rated high on the Glycemic Index, it’s not going to affect your blood sugar as much when you eat it with fat or protein as it will when you eat it alone.
If you want to see some of the GI ratings, This Article has a list of 60+ foods and their GI rating.
But Do I Really HAVE to Follow a Blood Sugar Diet?
No. You don’t have to be on a “diet,” per say. It’s more important to change what you eat than to be “on a diet,” because usually diets are short-term. What you really need is a lifestyle change.
Eat more vegetables and fruits. Choose whole grains over refined grains. Try quinoa, couscous, barley, brown rice, whole wheat breads and tortillas. Switch out that steak or other animal proteins a few times a week and go meatless with legumes, lentils, chickpeas, and other healthy vegetable proteins.
Frozen vegetables and fruits are just as healthy as fresh. If you have difficulty eating fresh fruits and vegetables before they go bad (for instance if you’re like me and you don’t have central air conditioning and it gets HOT in your kitchen!), frozen is the way to go. You can just pop them in a microwave safe bowl with a tablespoon or so of water and “Micro-steam” them. You’ll preserve the nutrients and your pocket book will thank you!
This link gives a nice pdf list of foods that you can and should eat as a diabetic.
For information about the Types of Diabetes and some herbs to help blood sugars, check out this blog!
Diet Alone Is Not Enough (But It Helps a LOT)
Exercise, and sometimes medication, are a necessary part of keeping weight off and keeping blood sugars stable. If you’re exercising and eating healthy and still find yourself in need of some extra help, try Bioterra Herbs’ Blood Glucose supplement. Click the image for a link to purchase!
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