Understanding Your Carb Choices and Making a Difference
Living with diabetes requires substantial changes to not only your eating habits but your activity level and social life. Understanding how to control your blood sugar level allows you to less time worrying about your own health and more time enjoying life. While you can monitor your blood glucose levels with a variety of diabetic accessories including Freestyle lancets or Aviva test strips, it’s important to regulate your levels with diet as well. The most important lesson for controlling your blood sugar is to understand carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates affect your blood sugar; this is fairly easy to understand, and many people have a basic understanding of the fact that the body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose. The Glycemic Index (GI) of a food is the measure of how much a food will raise the body’s blood sugar level. The index ranges from a 0, which has no effect on the body’s blood sugar level, to a 100 which is where you will find pure glucose. A food with a GI of less than 55 is considered to have a low GI, while anything between 55 and 70 is considered to have an intermediate GI.
Anything more than that has a high GI. Most vegetables have extremely low GIs such as cucumbers, kale, or olives. A salad is an excellent way to get a filling meal with almost no impact on your blood sugar. Most seafood and meats have extremely low GIs as well, as most of their calories come from protein rather than carbohydrates. Of course, sweetened beef or highly processed meats may have other additives to them which can increase their GI.
You can’t always avoid high GI foods, but the GI of many foods can be lowered by adding fiber or protein. Both fiber and protein slow digestion and even out the spike of sugar many foods can cause. If you really must have a sugary breakfast cereal, try to get one with a large amount of fiber. Fruits tend to have a fairly high GI due to the amount of sugars in them, however if they are consumed as part of bigger meals with plenty of protein and fiber their impact is much smaller. Don’t be afraid to enjoy sweeter foods, but moderate your consumption and try to mix them together with other foods. Of course, make sure also that you are monitoring your blood-glucose levels, whether you’re using Aviva test strips or Freestyle lancets.
Avoiding high GI foods isn’t always something that can be done, but you can reduce the affect by adjusting how it is prepared. Many high GI foods can be turned into intermediate or even low GI foods with the correct sort of prep. Consider a sweet potato, you would expect it to have an extremely large effect on your body’s blood sugar level and it does. However, this is only the case if it prepared in certain ways. A baked sweet potato has a GI of nearly 80. However take that same sweet potato and boil it instead, and you’ll have a sweet and tasty tuber with a GI of only about 40. The condition the carbohydrates are in drastically affects how readily the body absorbs the contents of the food.
Controlling your choice of carbs is vital to maintaining your health with diabetes. It is every bit as important as monitoring your blood glucose and taking your medications. Proper preparation and mixing a variety of foods together can drastically reduce the spikes in blood sugar level. However the best way to keep your body happy and healthy is to keep an eye on the GI of foods and try to cut out the high GI foods before they even get to your plate!
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