There are many online resources that list nutrition information for packaged foods, fresh produce and other foods that often don’t come with Nutrition Facts panels, and selected restaurant foods. Examples include Calorie King and Nutrition Data. Checking one of these sites before eating out can help you choose foods that fit your meal plan.
Once you know how much carbohydrate you are eating, you can begin to address any blood glucose control problems that may be related to carbohydrate consumption.
Do you know how much carbohydrate you “should” eat?
There’s no single correct amount of carbohydrate that all people with diabetes should consume at meals or on a daily basis. The amount you need depends on your overall nutrition needs, dietary preferences, physical activity level, and level of blood glucose control. A registered dietitian can help you work out a meal plan that has adequate nutrients and an amount of carbohydrate that will help with blood glucose control.
Your own trial and error is important, too. By noting what and how much you eat, and monitoring your blood glucose level before meals and two hours after meals, you will learn how different foods (and amounts) affect you, allowing you to tailor your food choices accordingly. This kind of monitoring can also help to tailor the size and timing of premeal insulin doses.
What is your blood pressure control plan?
While blood glucose control still gets top billing in diabetes care, it is now known that controlling blood pressure is also very important for the prevention of long-term complications, particularly stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure.
People who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure most likely have a plan that includes taking medicines and that should include lifestyle measures such as following a nutritious diet and getting regular exercise. But even people with blood pressure in the normal range should be aware of how their daily choices and habits can prevent — or contribute to — high blood pressure in the future. Among the choices you probably make every day are what to eat and whether to sit still or to get some movement.
Food choices. Following a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and other unprocessed foods can help to prevent high blood pressure, while the opposite — a diet low in these foods and high in processed foods and sodium — can raise it. Excessive alcohol consumption — more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women — can also raise blood pressure. And being overweight can raise your blood pressure, while losing weight can help to lower it.
Activity choices. Sedentary living can contribute to high blood pressure, while regular physical activity can prevent it or help to lower it. Even moderate activity, such as daily walking, has significant benefits.
In addition, ask your health-care providers how the medicines you take — both prescription and over-the-counter — affect your blood pressure. Some medicines are known to raise blood pressure, so if you have to take one or more of them regularly, it may be worth discussing whether there are alternatives that won’t raise your blood pressure or steps you could be taking to counter this side effect.
Knowledge is power
Understanding your diabetes management plan empowers you to be a fully participating member of your diabetes team and gives you the tools to work out problems independently. There are dozens of resources available to help you learn more about managing diabetes (see “Self-Help Resources”). If you’re unclear about any aspect of your diabetes management plan, speak to your doctor or your diabetes educator. The more information you have, the healthier you can be.