Fit 5 on Friday: Plan for a Great Summer and Predict your Blood Sugars!

June 20, 2014By 0 Comments

untitled76Back in the day, when those of us who had T1D lived and relied on that wrinkled piece of paper hanging from the fridge with our meal plan on it, could almost predict what our blood sugars could be.  Well, except for the fact that NPH insulin made that nearly impossible with the peaks and valleys it caused.  But imagine for a second that we all still were forced to follow a meal plan, never ‘cheat‘, and had our insulin pumps and carb ratios as we do now.  We literally could probably predict our blood sugars and be fairly accurate most days if we ate the exact same things all the time.  Where is the fun in that?  I think those of us who lived through the 90’s with T1D would be all set if we never saw another NAB (PB crackers), graham cracker, Nilla Wafer, Ginger Snap, Frookie Cookie (sugar-free cookie), plain Cheerios (no sugar!), and sugar-free fudgsicle ever again!!

The beauty of today’s diabetes regimen for T1D’s is that we have flexibility.  This is often times a curse as well, since we know we can pretty much eat anything as long as we bolus for it, some of us struggle with weight control as well as blood sugar management issues because of the freedom that pumps allow us.  That’s for another blog.

Ways we can take advantage of having the best technology attached to our hip and the freedom to explore flavors and types of food without too much guilt (as long as we remember to bolus) are by adding just a little bit of predictability to our day.  The invention of the insulin pump has allowed us to break free from the stigma of the exchange system and that forbidden word ‘cheating‘ (as if the donut is going to tell the apple you took a bite).  However, we are still completely dependent on insulin every second of the day, and it is still completely up to us if we remember to check our blood sugar, enter it in the pump (with enough time to allow the insulin to start working before shoveling food in our mouths).  Every meal, everyday, can vary either drastically or slightly for the average person with T1D.

When your Endo scolds you for not putting the carbs in your pump for the English Muffin you eat every morning, and you tell him it’s because you just ‘know‘ exactly how a certain food effects your blood sugar so you just ‘know‘ you need 2 units for it, or whatever, stop and realize that you need to tap into this telepathic capability.

It’s summer, and the flavors, freshness and BBQ’s are everywhere you turn!  Here is a list of things you can do to create some predictability in your meals this summer, so that you can enjoy all the festivities without high blood sugars keeping you from that next game of horse-shoes.

  1. Plan a two-week rolling menu: My husband and I recently dabbled with a Mediterranean diet cookbook.  Not because we wanted to go on a specific diet, but because we wanted to try new flavors and add a little variety to our usual dinner selections.  Making similar foods for two weeks straight really gave me some insight into how to keep my blood sugars stable,  After just a few nights of similar fish/chicken and veggie dishes, I could see a pattern with my numbers, and knew how I needed to bolus for such low-carb meals.  I suggest picking a cookbook, and it doesn’t have to be a diet cookbook, such as  grilling, or salads for example.
  2. Make a list of your ingredients and decide where you can substitute:  Once you have your two-week menu set (and you can make the same meals in week 2 that you ate in week 1 if that is easier for you), make a list of all the ingredients you need.  This is important for cost savings (for example if you need tomatoes for a few of the meals, try to make those meals close together before the tomatoes go bad and you need to buy more).  It’s also helpful for you to look at the list and see where you can make substitutions.  For example, quite a few of the recipes from my above example called for honey.  I substituted for agave nectar, which has a lower glycemic index and wouldn’t spike my blood sugar like honey.
  3. Try new tastes: If the recipe calls for ground beef, try ground bison or ground turkey.  It’s often lower in saturated fat and adds a new flavor kick to your meal. If your sick of regular romaine and iceberg lettuce, try different greens like kale and Bok choy.  Google how best to prepare them so that you get the best flavor out of them.  Trying these new things is not only good for your health, but it sets a good example for your family and kids that trying new things is fun!  Make your own condiments; here is a great recipe for a  special sauce for burgers that I found from the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen:

1/2 cup mayo, 2 tbsp. ketchup, 1 tbsp. grated onion (you can use onion powder), 1 tbsp. sweet relish, 2 tsp canned chipotle chiles (I use this in my Chili that I make during the winter so I always keep a small Tupperware container of it in the fridge, it doesn’t go bad), 1 tsp celary salt,    1 tsp kosher salt.

4.  Get a green thumb.  Many summer recipes call for herbs like basil, cilantro, and          chives.  Instead of spending money on a large fresh bunch of these herbs every time you go to the grocery store only to have them go bad in the fridge in a week, try getting live plants instead.  I have a tendency to kill anything green, but I’m trying hard this summer to keep my basil and cilantro plants alive and making sure they are used in many of my dinners.  How will this help your diabetes?  It won’t really, but you’ll feel very Martha Stewart-y for like a minute.

5.  Finally, and I’ve written about this in many of my holiday eating blogs…DON’T FORGET to bolus for the hidden carbs!  Condiments, buns, hidden potatoes in salads, corn on the cobb, fruit in salads, fun fruity drinks! Keep your eyes open and you finger on the ACT button.

Using some of these tips, along with checking your blood sugar frequently may help you to manage blood sugars this summer. It’s no longer the comfort food season and the weather is beautiful…no excuses!

Happy Eating!




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