Counting your calories
Many people are unaware of how many calories they eat each day, even if they usually follow a meal plan. Having just a couple of extra mouthfuls of food a day while preparing meals, regularly sampling treats brought in by colleagues at work, or treating yourself to more than the occasional fancy coffee drink can add up to gradual pounds gained.
One effective way to become more aware of every calorie you put in your mouth is to write down everything you eat or drink for several days (or longer, if you can). Include everything, even the milk you add to your coffee and any ingredients used in the preparation of foods, such as oil or bread crumbs.
Sometimes just seeing your total intake written down can show you where the extra calories are creeping in and where some could be cut. However, if you don’t see a lot of snacks or foods not on your meal plan, you may need to get out the measuring cups and spoons or a
food scale to check the portion sizes of the foods you eat. When you’re not measuring portion sizes, it’s easy for 1 cup of cereal to turn into 1¼ cups or for 2 tablespoons of peanut butter to turn into 3 tablespoons. Look at the labels on the packaged foods you buy, too; a manufacturer may have increased the size of an item or changed the recipe so that it contains more calories.
While keeping a food diary is helpful for many, it’s usually not necessary to count every calorie every day for the rest of your life. Once you have a good idea of the number of calories you want to eat each day, it may be easier to think in terms of numbers of portions of food from each food group. You might choose to use the food groups on www.ChooseMyPlate.gov (grains, vegetables, fruits, oils, milk, and meat and beans), or you might choose to use the food groups in the Diabetes Food Pyramid (grains, beans, and starchy vegetables; vegetables; fruits; milk; meat, meat substitutes, and other proteins; and fats, oils, and sweets). You can also substitute healthful alternatives for calorie-laden foods. Check out “Food Substitutions To Save Calories” for more information.
Since working out a nutritious meal plan that provides adequate nutrients, helps control your blood glucose, and enables you to lose weight can be a challenge, consider working with a registered dietitian who has experience with diabetes meal plans. Bring your food diary to your appointments so the dietitian can help you design a plan that takes your likes, dislikes, and any problem areas into account.