Candy and Chips:
If I really want something sweet, I will eat a piece of candy with less than 10g of sugar. If I find that I cannot stop eating the entire bag or package of candy, I do not buy that kind again. For Halloween, I buy candy I don’t like to hand out to the children trick-or-treating so I am not tempted to eat it.
The same is true with chips. There are some great tasting chips in the organic food isle that are low in sugar and aren’t made with an enriched flour. But if I cannot stop eating the entire bag, I do not buy that kind again.
If I am craving chocolate, I will eat a popular brand of an individually wrapped mint fudge brownie with 5g of fiber that only has 8g of sugar. It can usually be found near the granola bars.
Hot chocolate packets have too much sugar, especially if they contain mini marshmallows. But if you buy a canister of a hot chocolate mix, you can usually measure it out and mix it with water to be under 10g of sugar.
Flavored instant oatmeal packets usually have too much sugar in them. When I make a packet of instant apple cinnamon oatmeal with 12g sugar, I only eat ¾ of the cooked oatmeal to take it under 10g.
I like to buy yogurt tubes, because they typically have less sugar in them than a 6 oz. container of yogurt. The box of tubes I buy are an organic whole milk yogurt with only 6g of sugar in each tube.
When I’m craving pie, I buy a mini frozen fruit pie with less than 40g sugar (even though the crust is made with enriched flour.) After it has been baked and cooled, I cut it into fourths. I only eat one slice of the mini pie a day topped with a small squirt of aerosol whipped cream.
If I am craving ice cream, I will have a mini ice cream sandwich or mini ice cream cone that says on the nutrition label it has 10g sugar or less per serving. Or, I will cut an ice cream sandwich in half to get it under 10g of sugar and put the other half in a freezer baggie in the freezer for later. If I find that I cannot stop eating the entire box of ice cream treats, I will not buy that kind again. If my family members like the kind of ice cream I buy, I buy it in the regular size version for them. If they see the regular size version in the freezer, they will leave my mini version alone so there will actually be one left when I want to eat it.
Angel Food Cake and Sherbet:
Beware of angel food cake and sherbet. In the past, I have heard diabetics say they can eat angel food cake and sherbet. If you look at the nutrition label, there is a lot of sugar in both of them. Adding a strawberry glaze and whipped cream to the angel food cake increases the sugar content. In my experience, the more sugar I eat the more I want.
When I posted my recipe for Trick Cookies, I realized the best way for me to have cookies is to freeze preformed homemade cookie dough or purchase frozen cookie dough with less than 10g sugar per cookie. Then, I can pull out one or two cookies per person and bake them as needed instead of trying to resist eating a batch that made dozens of cookies. Don’t eat the frozen cookie dough before baking the cookies, especially if it has raw eggs in it.
Pasta is tricky. I have tried whole wheat pastas and haven’t liked them. A Registered Dietitian who led a diabetic foods class I took at a local grocery store, told me to buy a brand that’s made with 5g of fiber and 7g of protein. However, that brand is made with enriched flour. I buy whatever works best for the recipe. The pasta with 5g of fiber and 7g of protein makes a good spaghetti and meatballs dish, but it doesn’t work as well as popular brands in baked pasta dishes. I think the key to eating pasta is not to go overboard and just eat a small portion occasionally. An Italian restaurant I like to go to serves pasta dishes that could probably feed a family four with unlimited warm soft breadsticks that look like they are made with white flour. Exercise control so you don’t regret what you consumed and you can make your goal.
Bread and Buns:
You can eat 100% whole wheat or gluten-free breads and buns. It took a long time for me to find brands I liked. Sometimes, the plastic bag it comes in says it is a whole wheat product, but if you look at the list of ingredients, it is made with an enriched whole wheat.
My mother was borderline diabetic for many years. Her doctor told her not to eat potatoes. I think potatoes are fine, as long as they are the kind you peel and aren’t deep fat fried, because they are a whole grain. If it is a large potato, eat half of it.
Corn and Popcorn:
I think eating corn and popcorn is fine, because it has fiber. Like pasta, bread, and potatoes, just don’t overdo the serving size.
I do not like artificial sweeteners. I try to buy foods that do not contain artificial sweeteners.
Years ago, I remember my father’s doctor telling him that eggs were poison, but they are not. Now, they are considered a perfect food. I eat the egg yolk and the egg white.
Butter vs. Margarine:
When I was growing up, everyone ate margarine. Butter is better for our bodies. I buy unsalted sticks of butter.
I used to drink skim milk, but I have switched to whole milk which is more satisfying. I also get the full fat version of all other dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese. I have milk with my meal/snack if I don’t have another source of protein with good fat, such as: meat, eggs, or nuts. I do not count the amount of sugar in milk when calculating how many grams of sugar are in my meal/snack. I did that when I was first diagnosed and it drove me crazy, because I couldn’t eat enough cereal and milk for breakfast to sustain me. I do check the sugar content in other dairy products, like yogurt, which can have as many grams of sugar as a candy bar. Avoid drinking flavored milk, such as: chocolate, strawberry, and banana, because they usually contain more sugar than plain white milk.
Recently, I heard that our bodies process fruit juice the same way it processes soft drinks. If you can’t resist having a glass of juice, read the nutrition label. If it says there are 30g of sugar in an 8 oz. cup, measure out 1/3 cup which would be 10g of sugar. Be careful what you consume with it. If you’re having it with a granola bar or a flavored packet of instant oatmeal, you will be ingesting more than 10g of sugar. Or, squeeze an orange. You’ll get exactly the amount of juice you should have from one orange. Fresh squeezed orange juice is delicious. If you squeeze the orange with a manual juicer, you will build up your arm muscles.
Dried fruit contains a lot of sugar. Look at the nutrition label so you don’t eat more than 10g of sugar, especially if you are eating it with another food that contains sugar.
Honey, Syrup, Canned Fruit, Jam, Jelly, Preserves, and Packaged Trail Mixes:
I try to avoid honey, syrup (100% natural and artificially flavored), canned fruits, jams, jellies, preserves, and packaged trail mixes. Although they are made with naturally delicious ingredients, they contain too much sugar and are a trigger for me.
Granola bars can contain a lot of sugar. I look at the nutrition label. If it is a pack with two bars, one bar is usually less than 10g of sugar. If it is a full bar, I usually cut it in half to get it under 10g of sugar and save the other half to eat later. Some brands offer mini-size granola bars. Choose healthy granola bars instead of the ones made with candy pieces.
Croutons and Salad Dressing:
I do not eat salad croutons unless I am certain they are made with a flour that isn’t enriched, such as 100% whole wheat. I also lightly dress my salad with salad dressing.
Going Out for Burgers:
When eating at a burger and malt themed restaurant, I typically order a single plain hamburger patty without the bun or grilled chicken, a salad with ranch dressing on the side, and white milk. Don’t let the peer pressure of everyone around you eating malts get to you. They will feel awful after the meal for overeating and you won’t.
If I order a meal deal that comes with an enormous burger with everything on it, French fries, and a soft drink, I will only eat half of it. If it comes with three freshly baked cookies for $1, an irresistible deal, I will only eat one cookie. If someone who is with me would like the extra food, I share with them. Otherwise, I do not worry about throwing extra food away. It is not my fault many restaurants serve a majority of foods that aren’t healthy in ridiculously large sized portions. I do not do this for every meal every day. This is more like a once a month cheat meal.
If I order a large pizza, I tend to overeat. When I’ve tried eating the pizza toppings I’ve scraped off of a pizza crust made with white flour, I have not been satisfied. If I’m craving pizza, I will do one of the following things:
1. Order a personal size cheese pizza.
2. Bake a frozen cheese pizza that equals two servings or less.
3. Make it myself so I can decide what kind of crust to use.
4. Order a gluten-free pizza.
I have rarely eaten Chinese food since my diabetes diagnosis. My favorite items at Chinese restaurants are made with white rice or are deep fat fried, which isn’t good for me.
Online Menu Help:
Chain restaurants usually post nutrition information on their website, so you can figure out what to order before you get there.
Frozen Dinners and Desserts:
I tend to stay away from pre-packaged frozen dinners. In the past, I have worked with morbidly obese women who have eaten diet brands of frozen dinners every day for lunch. I imagine by the time they get home they are famished and they spend the evening binge eating only to repeat the cycle the following day. Once in a while, I do buy a single size frozen lasagna that has 20 or more grams of protein in it. I have also tried a frozen mini chicken slider sandwich on a bun, which wasn’t bad for being microwaveable. Two sandwiches came in the box. I did not eat both of them at the same time. If I know I am going to need a frozen meal, I prefer to make it ahead of time and freeze it myself.
There is a popular brand of frozen cheesecake that comes in a one slice package. After it defrosts in the refrigerator, I cut the slice in half to make it less than 10g of sugar and save the other half to eat later. At my favorite grocery store, it can be found in the frozen section with the frozen pies and pound cakes.
Self-serve Frozen Yogurt:
Self-serve frozen yogurt stores have become popular. Before you fill up a big cup with your choice of yogurt and candy toppings, look at the nutrition sign posted on the wall. It lists the serving sizes and sugar content of the flavors that are available that day. A serving with less than 10g of sugar is a lot smaller than you’d think. Top it with the fresh fruit selections that aren’t sitting in syrup.
Even if you don’t feel like it, make your lunch the night before. If you are too rushed to make it before you leave in the morning, you will probably make poor food choices throughout the day. I like to pack the foods that don’t need to be refrigerated in a separate bag, so things like popcorn and bananas aren’t cold when it’s time to eat.
Instead of buying expensive meal kits, make your own. For example, if you want to have taco salad for supper, do all of the prep the night before, such as: dicing tomatoes, shredding lettuce, grating cheese, and counting out a serving of tortilla chips per person. Then, all you have to do to make the meal is brown the hamburger and add the seasoning. In about 20 minutes, you’ll have a nutritious meal.
Don’t tell yourself things like, “I’m going to have a piece of cake at the birthday party.” or “I can have a doughnut at work since my boss brought them in for the meeting.” If you do, you will probably find reasons to justify eating bad foods every day. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat your wedding cake the day you get married. But, try to have a healthy snack with you at all times so you can get through difficult situations. Don’t worry if the host is offended. This is a life or death situation for you.
Summer is like a holiday every day. There are graduation parties, reunions, festivals and fairs, barbecues and bonfires almost daily. Although it’s not easy, skip the fried onion rings, fried cheese curds, lemonade, cotton candy, salt water taffy, and s’mores. Instead, eat small portions of grilled meat, fresh fruit, buttered corn on the cob, and bottled water.
When kids want you to buy food to help raise funds for their school or organization, be careful what you purchase. If you don’t think you can say, “No. Thank you.” look at the nutrition label to see what a serving size is before you eat an entire sleeve or box of cookies. Even though the pictures of the chocolate candies make your mouth water, the nuts are better for you. If there aren’t any healthy options you like, you can always donate what you buy to a food shelf.
I do try to ignore my intense cravings for unhealthy foods for as long as possible. I’ve found that if I satisfy one, I usually get another one right away. Eventually, they will subside.
Clean Plate Club:
Contrary to what you may have heard, you do not need to eat all of the food on your plate. When you are full, stop eating.
Some people say supplements are a must and some say they aren’t. I once worked with a man who was a former professional wrestler. When I worked with him, he was in his late 50’s and was in fantastic shape. He didn’t seem to complain about being tired or have as many aches and pains as our co-workers did. He took various supplements throughout the day. Check with your doctor to see if you should or shouldn’t be taking supplements.
You can get the nutrition information for your own recipes by searching online for a Recipe Nutrition Calculator.
When getting together with family and friends, try to find something fun to do that does not include eating large portions or unhealthy foods.
After spending most of my life eating meals around a table with family members, I can say I’m not a fan. For me, family meals can be stressful and filled with pressure and uncomfortable conversations. If your family meals are dysfunctional instead of enjoyable, don’t feel like you have to sit with everyone to give your body nourishment. Although many experts would disagree, I prefer putting the right-size portions on my plate and eating in front of the TV which takes the focus off of me and what other people think about the foods I am or am not ingesting.
Losing and Gaining Weight:
When you lose weight, try not to gain it back so you don’t have to lose it again.
Emotional eating is one of the reasons I was diagnosed with diabetes. In addition to celebrating with food, I’ve spent most of my life grabbing something sweet whenever I’ve felt: annoyed, disrespected, worried, verbally and mentally abused, lonely, bored, overwhelmed, betrayed/unfairly treated, insecure/self-conscious, ignored, belittled, stupid/dumb, victimized, unimportant, inadequate, misunderstood, mentally and physically exhausted, isolated, angry, sad/depressed, grief-stricken, frustrated, envious, nervous, worthless, anxious, trapped, irritated, resentful, judged, offended, rejected, etc… The fact of the matter is alcoholics can’t drink alcohol, drug addicts can’t do illegal drugs, and diabetics can’t have sugary food binges. Many people argue that you don’t have to drink alcohol or take illegal drugs to survive, but you do have to eat making the urge harder to resist. That’s true. But when you’re prediabetic or diabetic, you can no longer use food as a coping mechanism to comfort yourself during a personal crisis. What you can do is remember that no matter what an inconsiderate person says or does to you that is hurtful, you are still awesome. Not being able to eat all your favorite foods sucks, but having diabetes sucks more. When I feel tempted to eat foods I shouldn’t, I picture myself blind with all four limbs amputated wishing I didn’t have to depend on someone to spoon feed me and change my diaper for the rest of my life.