You don’t have to give up all the foods you love. Instead, create your plate to control portion sizes. Simply draw an imaginary line on your plate, select your foods, and enjoy your meal!
Solution: Use precut vegetables and other healthy convenience foods. To slash prep time, look for precut fresh onions, celery, carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms, sold in bags or tubs in the produce aisle. Or pick them up at the salad bar.
Also use bagged salad greens, premarinated lean meats, rotisserie-cooked chicken breasts, quartered marinated artichokes, preminced garlic and ginger, refrigerated reduced-fat doughs, and old standbys like canned beans, canned fish, and preshredded reduced-fat cheese to save kitchen time.
Solution: Prepare 1 meal but flavor it 2 different ways. For instance, on pasta night, make a complex, bold-tasting sauce for the adults, but heat up jarred spaghetti sauce for the kids. Divide the pasta between the 2 sauces.
When making casseroles, divide the mixture in half, flavor each half differently, then pour into opposite sides of the casserole dish and mark them with wooden picks. One side can be spicy, the other side mild. Or put a bold spice rub on 2 pork chops and a mild spice rub on the others. You get the idea. Think “1 meal, 2 flavors” and most dishes can be easily adapted.
Solution: Limit eating out and takeout meals to once or twice a week and make smart choices. In general, when eating out choose vegetable soups, salads or fish for starters. Stay away from anything fried. Look for dishes that are baked, broiled, grilled, or steamed. Ask for sauces and dressing to be served on the side and dip your fork tines or food into them instead of pouring them on. If your meal does not come with enough carbohydrates, ask for an extra serving of rice, bread or potatoes to supplement your meal. Choose sauces that are vegetable based and not cream or butter based. If you want dessert, go for fruits or sorbets.
Solution: Use more herbs and spices. Dried or fresh thyme lifts the flavors of chicken and mushrooms. Saffron does wonders for rice. And rosemary deepens the taste of lean beef. Tape a chart of herbs/spices and their matched foods inside your cupboard for easy reference.
Also stock high-flavor, low-calorie ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, hot pepper sauce, balsamic vinegar, and salsa for last-minute shots of flavor. Don’t forget fresh lemons. A squirt of lemon juice or a quick grating of lemon zest really perks up bland-tasting vegetables, rice, chicken, and fish.
Solution: Ready-made meals can be useful when you lack the time to cook a meal. Be sure to read the nutrition labels carefully: the healthy option versions may just be smaller portions of the regular meals. You can make them more healthy by adding extra vegetables and starches to the meal. And if you use a lot of canned vegetables, which can be full of sodium, drain them of the liquid they are canned in, rinse well, and cook them in fresh water to help reduce the sodium content.
Solution: Healthy eating can be healthy for your wallet too! A healthy diet is rich in whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. You can save money when you substitute these healthy items for meats that are more expensive, processed or prepared foods, and sugary or salty snacks.
Solution: You don’t need to exclude any foods from your meal plan—but you may need to adjust how much and when you eat them based on their affect on your blood sugar. So, if you love home-baked cookies, for example, talk to your diabetes educator or dietitian. He or she can give you ideas on how to incorporate your favorite foods into your meal plan.
Solution: Food can be central to family life. And loved ones are not always willing to change their eating and cooking habits to accommodate your needs. Talk to your loved ones about the changes you are trying to make in your eating habits and how these changes will help you manage your diabetes. Ask for their support and patience as you work on making these changes.
Solution: The best approach to this issue is to plan. Many restaurants have healthy choices available. However, serving sizes in restaurants tend to be large, so you may need to leave half or more of some foods on your plate or bring it home for later. Sharing a meal with someone else is a good way to avoid overeating.
Solution: Most people find that as they eat healthy foods, they develop a taste for them. From time to time you may still crave snack foods and it’s okay to have them occasionally. But over time, you will start to choose healthy foods because they are what you truly prefer, especially as you realize how much better you feel when you eat them.
Solution: Try to pay attention to how you feel during the day. When you don’t follow your meal plan, you may feel tired or lack energy. If you skip meals, your blood sugar levels may drop and you may experience symptoms of hypoglycemia. In the end, taking the time to follow your meal plan will help you manage your blood sugar, which will ultimately help you feel better.
Solution: Meal planning and dieting are very different things. Dieting is a short-term practice with a short-term goal—rapid weight loss. Diet success is measured in lost pounds. Meal planning is a way of life with a long-term goal—balancing your diabetes. Focus on realistic, healthy eating rather than avoiding foods and counting every calorie.