Support for Diabetics: three months after diagnosis

It’s been three months since you were diagnosed with Diabetes. This article is about linking your eating with your shopping habits, so we can help you prevent the temptations you may be finding tough to resist.

3 months living with Diabetes

Our previous article discussed the holistic approach to Diabetes. By now you may have tried it but we understand it can be overwhelming for first-timers. There’s a lot to think about when you take a holistic approach to anything in life, let alone to managing your Diabetes.

If you’re finding the holistic approach to be right up your alley, then this is great news! If you feel stressed out by all the elements which need to be considered, then this article may help you take a step back but at the same time, make some significant progress toward controlling your blood sugar levels. This article is about linking your eating with your shopping habits, so we can help you prevent the temptations you may be finding tough to resist.

What to do when managing Diabetes becomes stressful?

It’s important to remember that Diabetes symptoms range widely, but that the primary indicator is always going to be your blood glucose and HbA1c levels. This single and simple fact can help you prevent that overwhelming feeling from rising up every now and then. If you try to manage one thing, your blood glucose, you will notice that other possible symptoms like frequent urination and constant thirst will start to fall away.

What if your Diabetes medication isn’t working?

If you’re still feeling some of the side effects from when you first started your Diabetes treatment plan, you need to speak to your doctor, nurse or clinic team. Other factors may have changed, like your stress levels, your commute to and from work, and your meal times – you may be prompted to answer some questions about these things so make sure you give your healthcare provider as much information as you can. It’s for your benefit, so they can adjust your treatment plan if necessary.

What should you focus on after three months with Diabetes?

There’s no right or wrong answer. The goal is to simply move in a better direction for health, by taking your diagnosis as information and feedback from your body, to adjust your strategy in life. If you’re doing great by now, celebrate that by reflecting on how your efforts have paid off (but be mindful that it’s just as easy to move backwards).

If you’re overwhelmed then the logical thing to do is take a step back and break it all down into manageable steps. This is why we’re focusing on your shopping list at the three month milestone of living with Diabetes. Don’t use a shopping list? Well, there’s no time like the present, so let’s get you started the right way:

Diets versus lifestyle choices: Diabetic eating plans

Adjusting to your Diabetic dietary plan and Diabetes medication can feel difficult at first, but you’ll soon get into it. There are so many ways of looking at diets, but the most common belief is that the word is associated with a temporary change. Diets often lead to cheats or crashes which can be fatal.

This is why many healthcare professionals recommend that Diabetes patients look at their eating as part of a slow, steady and sustainable lifestyle transformation.

Do you read the labels on food packaging?

Adopting a healthier way of living and eating is made easier when you learn how to read the label. We’ve got a wealth of information about Diabetes and nutrition on our website, which you can bookmark and refer to at any time that you want to double check a decision. Reading and understanding the labels on food items you find in the supermarket can be empowering.

It’ll help you make better choices when it comes to selecting your groceries. Here’s a big tip for Diabetics (and everyone, in fact!): if a food item has a label, that means it’s most likely not a natural product, and is instead, an item of processed food. Of course, some processed foods should form part of your Diabetic dietary plan, but making the right choices goes a long way in ensuring you and your family are eating well.

Here are our tips and tricks for ensuring you make the right choice in the supermarket:

What are your options for Diabetes-friendly food substitutes?

Because Diabetes is managed through a combination of diet and medication, there are several Diabetic-friendly products available for you to use. These products are sugar-free and are most often recommended as easy snacks, or additions to your meals. Focusing on fresh foods, that are part of your Diabetic diet plan is important, so don’t fall into the trap of merely eating processed snacks, and thinking it’s okay because it’s Diabetic-friendly.

Rather, make sure you’re eating the right mix of foods, as recommended by your doctor, dietician, or clinic team.

How to shop for carbohydrates as a Diabetic person:

When you’re reading a food item label, check out the carbohydrate content. Make special note of the total amount of carbohydrates contained in the product you’re looking at, and don’t just focus on the sugar content, or sugar substitute content.

Be careful too, of sugar substitutes, and get clever when it comes to identifying the different ways sugars can be listed on food labels. For example, high fructose syrup may not sound like sugar…but it is!

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The reality is that it’s better to get your carbohydrates from a potato than a bag of potato chips. If you’re feeling confused about how much of your plate can be filled with carbohydrates, we suggest bookmarking our article on Diabetes and nutrition for a handy reference.

Which Diabetic food products are high in fibre?

High-fibre products are good for you, and should form part of your Diabetic diet plan. Check the label of your chosen food item to see just how much fibre it has to offer. A great benchmark is 5g of fibre per every 100g of product consumed, but remember that everything is best in moderation.

Bran, brown flour and rice, brown bread, pita or rolls – these are all great items to add to your shopping list. Compared to white flour food products, these listed items contain more fibre per gram, and contribute to a healthier gut. Because they’re slower to burn, as energy for your body, your blood sugar levels won’t be as quick to spike after eating brown flour products, when compared with white flour products.

If you’re consuming 25-30g of fibre every day, you’re more on less on par with the recommended daily guidelines. Too much fibre, on a regular basis, can cause digestive tract issues, and too little can result in the same.

Are fat-free products good for Diabetics?

Many fat-free products merely substitute the fat content with something else, and they may not always be the healthiest option for Diabetics. Make sure you’re choosing food items that contain more of the ‘good’ fats and less of the ‘bad’ fats. Chat to your doctor or dietician for advice on which of the ‘fats’ you need to focus on.

Good fats, like those found in avocados and organic dairy products, are used for insulation of your body’s organs and to keep your joints healthy. You shouldn’t be avoiding fats completely, but when you add items to your trolley, try to get more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Trans fats and saturated fats are not helpful.

Can Diabetic people eat salty foods?

Many processed food items contain high levels of salt and sodium. Too much salt and sodium is not good for everyone, whether they’ve been diagnosed with Diabetes or not. As a Diabetic, you must manage your salt and sodium intake quite carefully, so avoid food items that contain too much salt and sodium.

This means your trolley should feature less packets of chips and salted pretzels, ready-made sauces and preservative-heavy meal kits. Get fresh tomatoes and cream if you want to make your own sauces, and control the amount of salt you put into your foods. You can freeze your homemade sauces and salad dressings and use as needed, for a healthier alternative.

What’s the right portion size for a Diabetic meal?

The modern diet serves up far bigger portions than any of us need. Take careful note of the recommended serving size as listed on your food item’s label, and stick to it. If you need more detailed information about this at any time, you can view our post about Diabetes and nutrition.

Sources:

Leifer, M., 2015. Stock Your Kitchen For Diabetes Health. [online] WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/features/stock-your-kitchen-for-diabetes-health#1 [Accessed 17 September 2020].

Mayo Clinic. 2019. Reading Food Labels: Tips If You Have Diabetes. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/food-labels/art-20047648 [Accessed 17 September 2020].

McCulloch, M. and Marzen, L., 2018. Top Packaged Snacks For Diabetes. [online] EatingWell. Available at: http://www.eatingwell.com/article/291099/top-packaged-snacks-for-diabetes/ [Accessed 17 September 2020].

Vann, M., 2013. Food Labels: Read Them To Manage Your Diabetes – Type 2 Diabetes Center – Everyday Health. [online] EverydayHealth.com. Available at: https://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes/diet/food-labels-read-them-to-manage-your-diabetes/ [Accessed 17 September 2020].

WebMD. 2019. Reading Food Labels When You Have Diabetes. [online] Available at: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/how-read-food-labels#1 [Accessed 17 September 2020].

We all have questions.

Below are some of the answers to the most common questions that you need to know.

Which is worse – Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?

“Worse” is a harsh comparison. The difference between these two types of Diabetes is that Type 1 requires insulin, and it never goes away. Type 2 requires consistent effort and can be managed over your lifetime.

What is the normal HbA1C level?

It is generally accepted that you should maintain HbA1C below 8%. The following guidelines are suggested by the South African Diabetes Association:

 

  • 4 – 6% Non-Diabetic range. 
  • < 7% Well-controlled Diabetic 7% – 8% Acceptable Diabetic control > 8% 
  • Poor Diabetic control needs attention.

What is the main cause of Diabetes?

Diabetes (Type 1) is usually a predisposed or genetically inherited condition. Diabetes (Type 2) is caused by lifestyle choices. Gestational Diabetes can be caused by either genetics or lifestyle choices.

What are the first signs of Diabetes?

  • Excessive thirst over a prolonged period.
  • Increased frequency in the need to urinate.
  • Significant weight loss or gain.
  • You find yourself fatigued, tired, and irritable, on a regular basis.
  • Open or ruptured wounds take a long time to heal.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Tingling sensations in your hands and feet.

Can you get life insurance if you have Diabetes?

Yes. AllLife can help you get up to R10million life insurance, as either a Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetic.

Can I test myself for Diabetes?

Although you can easily test your own blood glucose levels at any time, only your doctor, nurse, or clinic team can confirm a Diabetes diagnosis. This is because a series of specific tests are required for diagnosis.

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