3 Ways to Manage Your Diabetes With Nutrition

Manage Your Diabetes With Nutrition

Diabetic Nutrition: Let Your Foods Be Healing

Charlie visited me a year ago, searching for a magical herbal formula to manage his blood sugar instead of using Metformin.

I candidly told him that, in my experience, dietary changes are far more effective for blood sugar management than herbs and nutraceuticals. I could see the disappointment in his eyes. “Doc, there’s no easy way out, is there?” he asked. I replied, “No, but dietary and lifestyle changes aren’t as daunting as you think.”

Charlie was aware of certain foods that could spike glucose levels, but he confessed that giving up carbohydrates, especially noodles and rice, felt like the end of the world to him. When discussing diet and diabetes, most people think it’s all about restrictions, but the key is making smart choices.

First, we need to understand which foods spike our glucose levels.

In the 1980s, a group of doctors led by Dr. Jenkins developed the Glycemic Index (GI) or Glycemic Load (GL). This tool helps people understand how different foods affect blood glucose levels. Foods are assigned a number from 0 to 100 based on how quickly they cause blood glucose to rise after consumption.

Foods with a higher number cause a rapid spike in blood glucose, while those with a lower number have a more gradual effect. Keep in mind that the GI is a general estimate; everyone reacts to foods differently. For instance, some patients are more sensitive to fruits, while others react more to grains. One patient was shocked to discover her main glucose disruptor was Costco dumplings.

Second, to reduce glucose spikes, incorporate sufficient proteins and fats into your meals.

Proteins and fats slow gastric emptying and trigger insulin secretion, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. Aim for about one serving of protein per meal—approximately 3 oz of animal meat or fish, 1 egg, or ½ cup of cooked beans. For snacks, pair carbohydrates with proteins and fats, such as yogurt with fruit, peanut butter with carrot sticks, or hummus with crackers. Including these nutrients in your diet can help manage your glucose response after meals.

Third, fine-tune your meals with post-meal blood sugar measurement.

To gauge your glucose response, use a glucometer. Two types are available: the traditional glucometer requiring a testing strip and a finger prick, and the Continuous Glucose Meter (CGM) which lasts for two weeks. With a traditional glucometer, test your blood sugar about 90-120 minutes after starting a meal. Aim for glucose levels under 150, and ideally, under 130.

Dietary changes can be a highly effective way to manage diabetes.

However, building new eating habits takes time, consistency, and patience. Seeking professional help from a registered dietitian or nutritionist can provide personalized guidance and support tailored to your specific needs and health goals. Their expertise can help you navigate the complexities of dietary changes for diabetes management effectively.

Feel free to schedule a consultation with the providers at Naturopathic Family Health if you have any specific concerns.  

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Dr. Sherry Su, San Jose Naturopath

Dr. Sherry Su, ND, FABNG
Naturopathic Doctor San Jose

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