What Does Eat Like a Diabetic Mean?

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This has to be the most common question I get when people ask me how I have been losing weight. Since I found out that I am a type 2 diabetic, I have been steadily losing weight. As of writing of this post, I have lost 50 pounds in about 3 months. 25 pounds due to my diabetes and 25 pounds due to my eating changes.

So, now when people see me, they comment about how much weight I have lost and how did I do it. My immediate response, “Eat Like a Diabetic”.

Then with a puzzled and bewildered look on their face, they ask, “What does that mean?” What does eating a diabetic mean?

To help explain this best, I break this concept into three parts:

  1. Carbohydrates
  2. Glucose Curve
  3. Portion Control

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are like energy to your body. Your body breaks carbohydrates down and turns them into sugars, then uses these sugars to give you energy. When you are a Type 2 Diabetic, your body doesn’t break down sugars well.

If you are eating foods that are high in carbohydrates you are putting more and more sugar into your blood, causing your blood sugar levels to rise to unhealthy levels.

When I was in the hospital, a nutritionist visited me and explained to me that I wanted to control the amount of carbohydrates.

She suggested that I eat between 45 and 75 carbohydrates per meal with 45 carbohydrates being a light meal, and 75 carbohydrates being a heavy meal. Now I look at how many carbohydrates are in everything that I eat. I try to find foods that are low in carbohydrates, or control my food in portions to have an amount of food that is lower in carbohydrates.

Glucose Curve

If you ask me if I avoid carbohydrates or am I trying to cut carbohydrates out of my diet, and the answer is “No, not really”.

I have lost weight by simply controlling how many carbohydrates I have and trying to stay on the light meal side. There is a reason for not cutting out carbohydrates all together and that is the glucose curve. During that same session with the nutritionist she explained me to how the body breaks down food and converts it to sugar (glucose) for energy.

First, your body breaks down the simple carbohydrates and sugars which is why when people eat sugar the get a quick burst of energy, but these sugars don’t last.

Second, the body breaks down more complex carbohydrates like wheat, oats and whole grains.

Third, the body breaks down proteins like nuts, beans and meats.

Lastly, the body breaks down fats like oils. This is called the Glucose Curve. It’s the rate at which your body produces glucose and burns it off.

If you are really interested in find out what your glucose curve looks like, you should get the items in my The First Things I bought as a Type 2 Diabetic then measure your glucose level every 2 hours for about 48 hours. You will see your glucose level fall and rise based on what you eat.

Everybody’s glucose curve is different.

It should take about 4 hours to see one cycle.

For Diabetics, my cycle is about every 6 hours, so don’t get concerned.

It just means that you produce and/or burn glucose slower.

Controlling Your Glucose Curve

To control your glucose curve you first want to understand you cycle, then eat foods that are the right mix. To get the right mix, you want to eat come carbohydrates (simple and complex), you want to eat some whole grains, you want to eat some protein and you want some fats.  This way your body constantly has a steady amount of glucose to burn, rather than spiking and then dropping. My goal has been to keep my glucose levels between 80 and 110. When I do this I see that my weight goes down.

Portion Control With Your Plate

The last take away I got from my visit with the nutritionist was portion control.

The first portion control principle starts with your plate. When you put food on your plate, you want 1/2 of the plate covered with vegetables. You can typically eat 2 servings of a vegetable before it counts as 15 carbohydrates, so it’s easy to portion out 1/2 the plate with vegetables. The other 1/2 of the plate is divided into two portions. 1/4 of the plate is for protein and the other 1/4 of the plate is for complex carbohydrates.

If you portion your plate out in this way, you will ensure that you are able to get the needed mix of carbohydrates to smooth out your glucose curve.

Do you have other ways of “Eating like a Diabetic”?

Please share your experiences with me in the comments below.

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