HAVING the right tools and information to help you better self-manage diabetes is the key to living a healthier, more productive life.
With regular blood sugar testing, counting carbohydrates at every meal, controlling stressful situations, setting realistic goals for success and developing an understanding of diabetes, you can take control of diabetes by making adjustments along the way to keep your daily progress on track.
What do a few pieces of candy and half a bagel have in common? More than you might think. Each will provide your body with about 15gm of carbohydrates and, once in your bloodstream, will become sources of energy in very much the same way.
Clearly there are differences too. Because they are made up of simple sugars, those hard candies will reach your blood faster, which is great news if you are experiencing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
The bagel, on the other hand, is much more likely to fill you up. As a complex carbohydrate, it will take longer to absorb.
Because carbohydrates are the main source of sugar in your bloodstream, counting carbohydrates can be an effective, accurate way to plan your meals.
Done well, counting carbohydrates can be more accurate than food exchange plans, because it takes into account variations between specific foods in each group.
The key is to know how many carbohydrates are in a particular food.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when counting carbohydrates:
Know your target
How many grams of carbohydrates should you eat throughout the day?
The amount you need depends on several factors, including your weight, activity level, how often you eat, how many, the diabetes medications you are on, your blood sugar control and your blood lipid control.
Work with a registered dietitian to learn how much carbohydrate is right for you.
A dietitian can provide an individualised meal plan that meets your energy needs, plus help you meet your diabetes management goals.
Watch your portions
The sure way to eat the right amount of carbohydrates is to practise portion control at every meal. Weighing and measuring foods at home can help you easily determine the right portion sizes when you eat at restaurants.
Maintain a careful balance
Counting carbohydrates is great, but it is not the whole picture.
If you consume too many fats, proteins or total calories, you could put on weight, raise your cholesterol and miss out on important vitamins and minerals, even while meeting your daily carbohydrate goals.
Think of counting carbohydrates as one component of good nutrition – make sure that you eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and proteins that your body needs, while keeping fats and salt to a minimum.
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The sure way to eat the right amount of carbohydrates is to practise portion control at every meal.