As the COVID-19 pandemic came, life changed drastically. In a matter of days, Americans went from working, going to school, and watching sports events to sheltering at home without schools, barbershops, or concerts. The sudden changes caused many people to experience confusion and exhaustion, and it may have caused you to lose focus on yourself, your health, and your diet. You are not alone if your eating habits have slipped a little and blood sugar has been a little off.
Knowing how to build a simple meal plan for diabetes can help control blood sugar while at home and as you venture out in the coming weeks and months.
Importance of Eating Well
Eating a healthy diabetes diet can make a major difference in your blood sugar levels. That is why Lark for Diabetes offers coaching around working a smart diabetes diet into your lifestyle. Certain foods can help reduce insulin resistance, while others increase it. In addition, losing weight if you are overweight can reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar.
A Smart Diabetes Diet
What goes into a smart diabetes diet? Lark for Diabetes suggests plenty of nutritious foods and not too many carbs, and small changes that can fit into your lifestyle so you can eat right for the long term.
The carbohydrates that can bump up blood sugar are sugars and starches, and their effect depends on how much you have of them and where you get them from. A diabetes diet might have you limiting carb intake to about 15 to 30 or 45 grams amount at most meals and snacks. For reference, there are about 15 grams of carbohydrates in 1 slice of bread, 1 small apple, 1/2 large banana, 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal, or 3/4 cup of mashed acorn squash.
Generally, choosing less processed foods with carbohydrates is better for blood sugar than refined carbs. Lark for Diabetes guides you towards high-fiber carb sources, such as whole grains, beans, fruit, and vegetables. At the same time, it may be best to limit sugary drinks and foods, white bread, rice, and pasta, and processed snack foods such as chips.
Losing weight can lower blood sugar, and it can be simple, even if it does not seem that way when you are working from home, have two hungry children clamoring for food, and have not had a moment by yourself in, literally, months due to stay-at-home orders related to the coronavirus.
Lark for Diabetes can guide your meals and offer insights as you log meals and track weight loss. Tricks include loading up on vegetables, including leaner proteins, and limiting high-calorie foods such as refined carbs as well as fried foods, processed meat, and fatty foods.
Since having diabetes raises risk for getting COVID-19 and for having more serious cases of it, boosting the immune system cannot hurt during this time. Luckily, many of the same foods that are good for blood sugar and weight loss have nutrients that are essential for the immune system. These include fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, legumes, and whole grains.
Sample Menu for Diabetes During COVID-19
Here is a simple menu designed for weight loss and blood sugar control. It has about 1,200 calories, which can help most people lose weight. If you are very active, are a larger person, or are male, you may need more calories. You can add a few snacks or increase portion sizes.
Sample Day 1
Sample Day 2
1 egg scrambled with 2 egg whites and fat-free milk, with fresh spinach and tomatoes, plus oregano and 1 ounce feta cheese, served with 1 slice whole-grain toast.
Breakfast hash made with diced cauliflower and onions, 3 oz. lean ground turkey or soy-based substitute, ½ cup cubed sweet potato, and 2 teaspoons olive oil.
Chili made with garbanzo, black, and/or pinto beans, lean ground turkey or soy-based substitute, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, chili seasoning, served with avocado.
½ whole-grain English muffin with 2 tablespoons peanut butter and ¾ cup blueberries.
3 ounces baked salmon served over a bed of spinach cooked with lemon juice, garlic, black pepper, and basil. 1 cup fruit salad with ½ oz. nuts.
½ cup whole-grain pasta tossed with 3 oz. cooked shrimp or chicken, 1 oz. parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 cup broccoli and carrots. 1 orange
½ cup low-fat cottage cheese with ½ ounce nuts.
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans pureed with 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and black pepper (have half of the recipe), 1 cup cauliflower or broccoli florets.
Testing Blood Sugar
With diabetes, any meal plan may need adjusting if blood sugar levels are not at target levels. Lark for Diabetes can remind you to test blood sugar at the regular times of day when the doctor may have asked you to do so.
Blood sugar can get out of whack if you get sick. It is best to contact your doctor to discuss whether you may need to come in to be seen. While sick at home, you may need to test every few hours and adjust your medications or carb intake if values are changing.
Ideally, you can stick to a normal eating schedule and diet, but if not, try to get about 15 g carb every 1 to 2 hours. Possibilities include:
1 slice bread
1/2 oz. crackers, or 6 saltines, or 10 Wheat thins
3/4 cup Cheerios
‚1/3 cup oatmeal
1 small apple or pear, 1 large orange, or 1 medium peach
1 cup strawberries or 3/4 cup blueberries
Also be sure to continue to drink plenty of liquids.
After so many weeks in quarantine, the future is still uncertain, but one thing is sure. Staying home or getting ready to venture out, it is a great time to take charge of your diet and health. Having a simple meal plan to follow can make it easier for you to stay on track or get back on track, and Lark for Diabetes can be right there with you.
Lark helps you eat better, move more, stress less, and improve your overall wellness. Lark’s digital coach is available 24/7 on your smartphone to give you personalized tips, recommendations, and motivation to lose weight and prevent chronic conditions like diabetes.