Diabetes Self-Management Articles

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Eating on the Go

by Patti Geil, MS, RD, CDE, and Laura Hieronymus, MSEd, APRN, BC-ADM, CDE

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying… —Robert Herrick

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock…that’s the sound of time flying while you juggle job, family, and other commitments, while also trying to squeeze in time for rest, relaxation, and fun. As you rush from one activity to the next, it’s often more convenient to grab the nearest quick food to keep your energy level and blood glucose up, without considering the effect on your health. It may be faster to grab something from the vending machine as you run to your next appointment, but are you really making the best food choice within your time limitations? Consider this telling trend: Consumption of oranges has fallen 2% in the past year because consumers consider oranges too time-consuming to peel and eat!

The ever-present time crunch becomes even more significant when you have diabetes. According to research published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Practice, an experienced person with Type 2 diabetes who takes only oral medicines needs more than two hours a day to follow all of the diabetes self-care recommendations, including meal planning and preparation and exercise. Of this time, nearly an hour is focused on food, including meal planning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation. It’s certainly time-consuming to follow your meal plan during a routine day around the house, but how can you maximize your health and nutrition when you’re on the go?

Be prepared!
Keep the Boy Scout motto in mind when you face the challenges of a hectic day. If your basic diabetes management skills are already in place, you’ll adapt more easily when your schedule throws you a curveball.

Start your day right by eating before you leave the house. Fruit, whole-grain cereal with skim milk, and low-fat yogurt are healthful options that will jumpstart your day and help you feel full, making it less likely that you’ll give in to temptation while you’re out and about.

Brush up on carbohydrate counting so you can be more flexible with your food choices. Knowing the difference between the carbohydrate count of a small order of fries (about 45 grams) and a small serving of chili (about 23 grams) can help you make a better decision at the drive-thru. Here are two resources to keep in your car to help with fast-food and other menu decisions:

CalorieKing Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter, by Allan Borushek (Family Health Publications, 2008)

The Ultimate Calorie, Carb & Fat Gram Counter, by Lea Ann Holzmeister (American Diabetes Association, 2006)

(Click here for more helpful resources for eating on the go.)

Carbohydrate listing and tracking software is also available to download to your PDA (personal digital assistant), and some insulin pumps have a similar feature.

Have your blood glucose meter handy, and use it often during the day. The results will tell you if you need to adjust your medication, activity, or food choices. Keeping your blood glucose level within your target range when you’re on the go makes it more likely that you’ll feel better and have the energy you need to power through your busy day.

Don’t forget to have an emergency carbohydrate source with you at all times to treat low blood glucose. A hectic travel day or increased physical activity can affect your blood glucose level, so be prepared to treat low glucose with a food or drink portion that contains 15 grams of carbohydrate. Examples include 3–5 glucose tablets, pieces of hard candy, or sugar cubes or 4 ounces (half a cup) of fruit juice or regular (non-diet) soda.

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Also in this article:
Best Bites From the Vending Machine
Helpful Resources
Raising the Bar



More articles on Nutrition & Meal Planning



Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.



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