The other day I was asked about the best foods to eat when you have diabetes. This is not the first time someone has asked me this. I often get asked what is the best vegetable to eat or what fruits does someone with diabetes really need to avoid? The answer is simple to say, harder to accept and practice: all foods can fit. I will often recommend some meal components, tips or principles one can experiment with. Here are my three best meal planning tips for someone with diabetes, but really they’ll apply to many.
Meal Planning Tips for People with Diabetes
- Include carbohydrates with meals and snacks. (This involves knowing what foods are carbohydrate containing). This might be confusing if you have been told to limit carbs (that is just diet culture talking). Avoiding or limiting carbs just sets us up for more intense cravings and can promote a negative relationship with food long-term. Carbs are our bodies’ favorite fuel source and let’s be real, they are delicious.
- Aim for satiety. Foods that are more satiating are also the foods that balance out blood sugars. Foods that provide “staying power” include foods with more fiber, protein and fat. An example would be a lunch that includes low-carb vegetables like spinach or lettuce, and you could experiment with adding beans (fiber, carb and protein), chicken (protein) and avocado (fat). Another example would be a meal of pasta (carb). You could experiment with adding vegetables (fiber), olive oil drizzle (fat) and chicken (protein) to see if that improves satiety.
- Choose foods you find satisfying. There is nothing worse than ordering what you thought you should be eating and then feeling full but like “something is missing.” That missing component is satisfaction. I heard the other day that the “e” in eating is for enjoyment and satisfaction plays right into that. We need to find some satisfaction in our meals and think about what really sounds good. Then we are left with a feeling of content by our food choices, rather that looking for more food that we might not have space for. This can also help with blood sugars because you aren’t eating more than your body needs in that moment. Eating more sometimes can result in higher blood sugars.
These are some examples of ways you can approach meals to improve your experience and your overall blood sugars. You deserve both. Looking at meal planning and diabetes from a place of curiosity can be a helpful step in healing your relationship with food.