If you or your loved one have been recently diagnosed—or have recently come to a shocking realization that you are going to die early if you don’t make some drastic changes—let me suggest that perhaps the very first step to take is Portion Control. And the first step in practicing Portion Control is to keep a detailed, strict food journal.
Some of you have told me that you really need both accountability and motivation. And there’s nothing like a written food journal to provide both!
Your food journal can be as simple as a manually written one or as complex as a computer or phone app (like MyFitnessPal and others). You can track only the food and the amount of carbohydrates per serving (since it’s carbohydrates that are raising your blood sugar); or you can track a full bank of macronutrients (calories, carbs, fat, fiber, protein, etc.). However, in either case you need to know the portion size of one (1) serving and write it down. Add up the grams of carbohydrate in one meal or snack then calculate the total for the day.
If you have been following the Standard American Diet (SAD), that is, eating whatever you want whenever you want, try to at least limit your food intake to ADA (American Diabetes Association) guidelines of 150-180 grams of carbohydrates per day. That’s roughly 45-60 grams per meal or 15-20 grams per serving. You’ll probably be shockingly surprised at the amount of carbohydrates you’ve been eating!
Be sure to check your blood glucose first thing in the morning (fasting blood glucose), at bedtime, and pre-meal and 2 hrs post-meal at various times during the day. Record these blood glucose numbers in your food journal. And, if you are on diabetes medications and/or insulin, write the times and dosages in, too. This is so you’ll be able to see how any changes in your dietary lifestyle are affecting your blood sugar numbers.
If you have already been following ADA dietary guidelines but, over the years, have found that diet and exercise and perhaps medications just aren’t keeping your blood sugars under control any more, you may want to consider a lower-carb dietary regime. You can do this whether you are vegetarian/vegan or Adventist non-vegetarian/pescatarian. “Low-carb” can mean anything from under 100 grams of carbohydrates/day to as little as 20-30 grams/day. If you do try a very low-carb diet, be sure to keep track of your blood glucose and medications, because this may require a reduction of dosage in some medications and insulin. Otherwise, you may get low blood sugars. Do work with your doctor on this.
If your personal goal is to stay under the ADA-recommended 7% A1C and you are achieving that with an ADA-compliant diet, exercise, and possibly medications, then are you successful! If, however, you’d like to get closer to the non-diabetic normal A1C of 4.0-5.6% and/or if you’d like to get off medications and/or insulin, there are ways of tweaking your diabetes management. More on that in later posts.