If you have been told your blood sugar is too high, your first thought might be that you can never eat sugar again. The fact is that controlling your blood sugar involves much more than avoiding sweets. All of the foods you eat, from carbohydrates to fats, have an impact on your blood sugar. There are a few basic steps you can follow that will help you manage your food intake and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Consult a Professional
Consult with a dietician or certified nutritionist, preferably one recommended by your physician. A dietician will go over your health profile, current blood sugar levels and medications list with you. She will address your food preferences, working with you to design a menu that takes your medications into account and suits your schedule and your taste buds.
Create a Plate
At each meal, arrange your plate according to the recommendations of the American Diabetes Association. An easy way to manage your intake is to visualize a line going straight down the middle of your plate. Fill the area on the left side of the line with non-starchy vegetables. Examples of these include broccoli, green beans, beets, turnips, cauliflower, tomatoes, okra, spinach or a nice green salad with lettuce, mushrooms, peppers and cucumbers. On the right side of the imaginary line, imagine a horizontal line cutting the right section into two sections -- a top and a bottom section. Fill the top section with starches such as whole grains, beans, sweet potatoes, winter squash or whole-wheat pasta. Finally, fill the bottom section with 3 ounces of lean protein. These easy-to-remember visual guidelines help manage your food portions and blood sugar levels, according to the ADA.
Eat at Regular Times
There is continual debate on whether or not you should eat three square meals or several small meals per day for good health. When you have high blood sugar, your meal frequency should be decided by you, your dietician and your doctor after review of your blood sugar levels. One certainty is that you should try to eat your meals at the same time every day to maintain blood sugar levels. A study in the January 2005 issue of "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" reports that consistent meal times helped keep post-meal blood sugar levels lower. The Mayo Clinic also confirms that eating at the same time every day keeps blood sugar levels steady.
Keep a Food Diary
Keeping a food diary enables you to track your food intake, which can help you identify foods that may be affecting your blood sugar levels. According to a study published in the Jan. 17, 2013 issue of "Endocrine," high-carb and high-fat intake play a significant role in high blood sugar levels and the development of Type 2 diabetes. Writing down everything you eat will allow you to see if you are consuming too many carbs or too much fat. Vanderbilt University Medical Center suggests that a food diary for high blood sugar should contain info such as time of meal, description of food and portion size. Be very specific in your food diary and make sure you write down everything that goes in your mouth. It is also important to keep track of the number of carbs and fat grams in food items. Other food diary suggestions include writing down your activities and emotions at mealtime, such as feeling lonely and watching TV. These journal entries can help you identify areas of weakness in managing your food intake.
- University of Illinois Extension: Your Guide to Diet and Diabetes
- American Diabetes Association: Create Your Plate
- Mayo Clinic: Diabetes Management: How Lifestyle, Daily Routine Affect Blood Sugar
- Endocrine: Dietary Composition of Carbohydrates Contributes to the Development of Experimental Type 2 Diabetes
- Vanderbilt University Medical Center: The Importance of Food Diaries
A certified nutritionist who majored in health, fitness and nutrition, Traci Vandermark has been writing articles in her specialty fields since 1998. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine," "Birds and Blooms," "Cappers" and "Country Discoveries."