Diabetes: What Can I Eat? (cont.)

Generally for a meal some people with diabetes stick to 50 grams of carbohydrate in a meal, which leads me to an important point, and that is the importance of each person with diabetes being their own detective. There are great individual differences in blood sugars as a result of food.

The more you take control by writing down your grams of carb, grams of fat, grams of fiber for meals, and testing your blood sugar an hour or two later, that's when you'll know what works for you in managing your blood sugars at that time of day.

The truth shall set you free, because once you figure that out, once you know what amounts of which foods works for you, it becomes less important for you to count at that meal.

For example, once you know that a cup of al dente pasta with a cup of vegetable marinara and a side salad with kidney beans works for you, you can have that meal again without counting. So although the counting and blood testing sounds tedious and frustrating, it's really an initial investment of time and effort, and it will eventually free you.

When at long, slow, holiday meals I have a solution that seems to work for me, and I'm just wondering if I'm asking for trouble. I choose the appetizers, inject, and eat. Then I enjoy the company for a while. Then I pick the first one or two courses, inject and enjoy. Again, a break from food, then back again for the main course, a break, then the dessert. The injections are about half an hour apart, and I've had no low blood sugar reactions. Overall it is a larger meal than a non-holiday meal, but it's not every day it occurs. Am I kidding myself, or have a got a viable solution here?

The truth is in your blood sugar testing. If it has been working for you when you measure your blood sugars throughout the day and your blood sugars are within the normal limits, I think you've found your solution.

It's probably something you should discuss with your certified diabetes educator or physician, but it does sound to me like this is a plan that will work for you. That's a great solution. Another tip would be for you to make sort of a doggy plate of different things you would love to try the next day, as well, and keep it in the refrigerator, keep collecting, and take it home with you. That way you are not going to miss out even on seconds.

While we're on the holiday track, Elaine, what kinds of food strategies do you have up your sleeves for cooking and consuming during the upcoming holiday season?

Glad you asked, because the holidays are and can be a difficult time for people with medical issues. Let me just give you a few strategies I've come up with over the years. First, know this: You can still enjoy those holiday desserts!

The key is to avoid overeating. Some of us will fare better calorie-wise and emotionally if we have a little bit almost every day. This can work if you are eating healthy the rest of the day. So just plan in those desserts that you might be having by maybe cutting somewhere else in your normal day's intake.

And keep exercising throughout the holidays. This will help keep your metabolism higher. It will also help normalize your blood sugars. Here's a party-time strategy: some of us are dessert samplers. We would much rather sample several holiday goodies instead of having one big slice of something.

As long as you can hold your bite-sized goodies in one hand, you are likely to stick to a 300 calorie dessert goal. I've found that most of the bite-sized things we get during the holidays have about 100 calories each, so the magic number of goodies you can choose is three. Like one large truffle, that would count as one; a pecan pie piece the size of a cupcake; that would count as one; one piece of English toffee.

That gives you an example. Or a one and a half inch square of fudge. Another key to getting through the holidays is to use fiber to your advantage. When you have a choice, go for the higher fiber choice throughout the day.

Keeping your fiber higher can help you not only normalize your blood sugars but turn down your holiday appetite. If you're going to a dinner or party, offer to bring something you really like so you can make it the light way and you'll know generally what the calories and grams of carbs, fat, fiber, are for that dish.

Just try to stay on track as much as you can to measure your blood sugars, exercising regularly, writing down what you're eating, grams of carbs, fat and fiber, and it should help you get through the holidays the more you stay on track.

I wanted to mention snacking. This may be one of those areas during the holidays that you save yourself from. When you're eating during the holidays and you're eating more food in general and more higher calorie foods, you have to cut somewhere generally to keep it balanced.

One way you may want to pay attention to is snacking. So reserve snack time for some of those key healthy foods that you may not be getting through the day. Fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, that's a good time for those foods. Your orange, like even a fast food side salad with a light dressing can only be 100 calories in some cases.

That way you're sort of filling up with fiber, getting your fruits and vegetables, getting your low fat dairy as a snack. But really watch snack time. This can be what does you in and sends you overboard on calories and such.

Can you give any suggestion for keeping brownies and cookies from turning rubbery when you substitute fake sugar for real sugar? Is there an ideal proportion where it stays chewy?

I've generally had success using half Splenda and half sugar. I tend to use brown sugar and then substitute Splenda for the granulated sugar called for. This tends to be the ideal balance. So the good news is you're cutting the sugar and calories from sugar in half, and you're still usually getting a baked product that looks and tastes very similar to the regular.

Elaine, do you have any final words on eating right with diabetes?

Have a happy, healthy holiday season everyone. If you get a chance, check out my book on amazon.com. It's available in Spanish and Chinese too, and come visit me on my WebMD Weight Loss Clinic message boards. I'd love to help you.

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