Meal Planning Tips to Control Blood Sugar Level

photo of woman writing in food diary

Make a Plan

Having diabetes makes it important to keep a careful eye on your blood sugar (glucose) levels and your weight. It can be tough. But knowing what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat can make it easier. The key is to find what works best for your tastes, your lifestyle, and your budget.

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Find the Right Balance

With diabetes, your diet should be high in nutrients and low in fat and calories. There are many ways to do that, like going low-carb, low-fat, or vegetarian. Shoot for a 50-25-25 split, with the largest section filled with non-starchy vegetables (like peppers or spinach), and a section of protein, and one of grains and starches (like beans or potatoes). A daily serving of fruit or dairy and small amounts of healthy fats are OK, too.

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Time Your Meals

When you eat is important, especially if you use mealtime insulin. Aim to eat at the same times every day. Try to keep the amount of food about the same, too. Having one big meal at the end of the day or spacing your meals unevenly can affect your blood sugar and your medication. Your doctor or dietitian can help you set the right times to eat.

photo of woman eating breakfast

Don’t Skip Meals

If you take medicine for diabetes, going too long without eating can lead to seriously low blood sugar levels. And running out the door in the morning without breakfast can set the wrong tone for the day and make you want high-calorie foods later. That can make managing your glucose levels — and your weight — harder.

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Watch Your Portions

A key part of any diet plan is proper serving sizes. When you first start to pay attention to the amount, your eyes may not be accurate enough — especially when you’re hungry.

For example, a serving of meat like chicken is only about the size of the palm of your hand. It’s best to use a few tools — like measuring cups, scales, or spoons — until you get the hang of it.

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Consider How Active You Are

Exercise burns glucose and helps your body use insulin. That means it can help control your blood sugar. But it also can affect how much you should eat and how much medicine you need. Talk with your doctor about what your levels should be when you exercise and how often to check them. Your doctor can also help you figure out how to time your meds and meals around your workouts.

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Check Your Levels Regularly

If you take insulin, it’s best if it starts to work about the same time glucose from your food hits your bloodstream. So the ideal time to take it is about 30 minutes before you eat. But many things can affect your blood sugar, like exercise, being sick, or stress. It’s important to keep a close eye on your levels and make sure you’re getting the right amount of insulin.

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Count Carbs

Foods with carbs affect your blood glucose more than anything else you eat. One way to manage this is to figure out how many grams of carbs are in a meal and base your dose of insulin on that amount. To start, keep track of your meals and check your blood sugar before you eat. Then check it again in about 2 hours to see how different foods affect you. This can help you and your medical team figure out the right amount of carbs for you.

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Use the Glycemic Index (GI)

This lets you predict how a food will affect blood sugar. The lower a food’s GI level, the better, and you can balance out high-GI foods with low- and medium-GI ones. Low-GI foods include oatmeal, pasta, sweet potatoes, corn, carrots, peas, most fruits, and non-starchy vegetables.

Medium-GI foods include whole-wheat or rye bread, pita, and brown, wild, or basmati rice.

High-GI foods include white bread, white rice, russet potatoes, pretzels, popcorn, melons, and pineapple.

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Get Plenty of Fiber

Foods that are high in fiber take longer for your body to digest, so they affect your blood sugar levels more slowly. They’re also part of a healthy, balanced diet. Good choices include non-starchy vegetables (think spinach, collards, or kale), fruits (especially citrus, like grapefruits or oranges), beans, and whole grains.

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Limit Unhealthy Beverages

Sweetened drinks, like soda or sports drinks, can spike your blood sugar. And they give you lots of empty calories. On the flip side, alcohol can make your levels too low because it affects how your liver releases sugar into your bloodstream. If your blood sugar is under control and your doctor says it’s OK, an adult beverage is fine from time to time. Just make sure to eat beforehand and watch your levels closely, especially before bed.

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Plan for When You’re Sick

Your body’s natural way of fighting off illness can raise your blood sugar, so you might need to make some changes to your treatment when you’re under the weather. Your doctor can help you prepare for it and manage it. For example, you might need to check your blood sugar more often, or sip juice or a sports drink to keep your blood sugar where it needs to be.

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Use the 15-15 Rule

If you have a sudden drop in blood sugar, this rule can get you back on track without sending your levels too high.

The idea is to eat or drink something with at least 15 milligrams of carbohydrates, wait 15 minutes, then check your blood sugar to see if it’s back up to at least 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). A tablespoon of sugar or honey or 4 ounces of juice or soda might do.

But don’t eat until you’re full. That can send your levels too far in the other direction.

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If You Need Help

It can be hard to find a way to control blood sugar. Medical nutrition therapy, from a registered dietitian nutritionist, may help. The nutritionist will talk with you about your eating habits and lifestyle, then help you come up with a personalized plan. You’ll have follow-ups to talk about your progress and adjust your plan.

Medicare covers this type of therapy for people with diabetes. Private insurers might cover it too. Ask yours.

Cinnamon May Control Blood Sugar to Prevent Diabetes

Lauren Manaker MS, RDL, LD, CLEC

spoon of cinnamon

Eskay Lim / EyeEm / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • A third of a teaspoon of cinnamon a day may improve fasting blood glucose levels and glucose tolerance over time in people with prediabetes.
  • Prediabetes is a precursor to developing type 2 diabetes. Diet and lifestyle changes can slow or reverse its progression.

New research shows daily consumption of cinnamon may help control blood sugar in individuals with prediabetes, preventing type 2 diabetes down the road.

The data, published in the July issue of the Journal of Endocrine Society, looked at the effect of three daily 500 milligrams (mg) doses of cinnamon over the course of 12 weeks.1 All 54 study participants were considered prediabetic, but only 27 received cinnamon in capsule form. The rest received a placebo.

After 12 weeks, people on the placebo had higher fasting blood glucose—the mount of sugar in the blood after an overnight fast—but levels in people consuming cinnamon remained stable. Fasting blood glucose levels will remain high if your body can’t produce enough insulin after a long period without food.

Additionally, cinnamon, but not placebo, resulted in an improved glucose tolerance—the ability to metabolize sugar.

“We’ve had evidence for a while that cinnamon can lower blood glucose levels in people with diabetes,” Melissa Azzaro, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian, tells Verywell. “The [new] data seems to suggest that the benefits extend to individuals with prediabetes as well, without any safety concerns.”

What Is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes, also referred to as impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose, is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. It doesn’t cause symptoms, but can be identified with a blood test.

An Easy Solution to a Common Problem?

“The current prevalence of prediabetes in the U.S. is estimated to be just over 84 million adults,” Hailey Crean, MS, RD, CDCES, registered dietitian and owner of Hailey Crean Nutrition, LLC, tells Verywell. “According to an expert panel compiled by the American Diabetes Association, up to 70% of individuals with prediabetes will eventually progress to type 2 diabetes.”2

Crean says cinnamaldehyde, the active component in cinnamon, is thought to support insulin release and increase insulin sensitivity, helping to lower blood sugar in people already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.3 According to Azzaro, this also has benefits for people who don’t yet have diabetes.

“Cinnamon is a fantastic addition to the diet for anyone concerned about blood sugar balance,” Azzaro says. “I recommend women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) include it in their diet daily to help lower the the risk for developing type 2 diabetes.”

Incorporating an effective amount into your diet isn’t hard.

“For the benefits seen in this study, 1.5 grams of cinnamon is approximately one-third of a teaspoon—easy to add to a smoothie, yogurt, or oats,” Azzaro says. As an alternative, cinnamon is also available in supplement form.

The study identified little risk of using cinnamon to manage prediabetes.1

However, experts caution against taking this research as an official recommendation.

“The evidence doesn’t support the universal recommendation of cinnamon supplements for all individuals with prediabetes just yet,” Crean says. Still, she sees cinnamon as a great way to boost flavor in place of added sugar.

Ask FDA to support Hydroxychloroquine as possible treatment to help save lives

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all heard the mantra “listen to the science” repeated over and over.  And most people of goodwill, regardless of their politics, do trust the expertise of our doctors, scientists, and public health officials.

But what is happening at the FDA with its opposition to an inexpensive, highly effective, safe, and commonly used drug called Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) has little to do with science and a whole lot to do with Washington DC politics.

Instead of playing politics, the FDA should give HCQ a fair trial and help save lives!

Please SIGN our petition demanding that the FDA stop its politically-motivated anti-scientific opposition to Hydroxychloroquine.

According to a growing number of non-political medical experts, like Dr. Harvey A. Risch, Professor of Epidemiology at Yale University, the FDA’s opposition to Hydroxychloroquine as an early treatment for high risk individuals with the coronavirus could be directly responsible for the deaths of many thousands of Americans. Dr. Risch’s assertion is backed up by international studies, which he has reviewed openly in prestigious medical journals, and which prove his point beyond a doubt. 

Dr. Risch’s conclusion about HCQ is also backed up by the growing experience of doctors who are successfully treating their COVID patients with HCQ.  These are not quack doctors like the mainstream media would have you believe, but compassionate and courageous licensed medical doctors, willing to go against the political prejudice of the mainstream for the good of their patients.

When properly prescribed (in the right dose and to the right individuals), the science proves that HCQ can lead to a drastic reduction in mortality, so why would the FDA want to stop a cheap, safe and effective treatment for the coronavirus?

Please SIGN our petition demanding that the FDA stop its politically-motivated anti-scientific opposition to Hydroxychloroquine.

SIGN PETITION

It is not conspiratorial to suspect that companies that stand to make tens of billions of dollars in profits from the sale of vaccines would want to bury a cheap, safe, and widely available treatment for the virus.

According to OpenSecrets.org, pharmaceutical companies spent over a billion dollars in lobbying activities since President Trump’s election.  More importantly, 63% of lobbyists employed by the pharmaceutical companies previously worked in the government.  This does not automatically mean that they would use their significant influence to undermine competitors, but it certainly highlights the need for the people to be vigilant when it comes to government decisions which could impact the pharmaceutical industry.

In the end, it does not matter if the motivation behind the FDA’s opposition to Hydroxychloroquine is based on politics, the influence of pharmaceuticals or just bad science. What matters is that Americans and people around the world are dying unnecessarily and we are still in time to correct this terrible decision.

As was seen by the grotesque censorship of the Frontline Doctors White Coat Summit last week. Big Tech companies have swallowed the political lie, hook, line, and sinker, and are now in a full-blown virtue signaling campaign of censorship against HCQ. 

Please sign our petition right now. It will be delivered to the FDA and President Trump at the White House. We do not have time to lose.