The timing of your meals can have a profound effect on how well you manage your blood glucose levels. Here are five tips for optimising the what-and-when of your daily food intake.
The best and safest way to beat type 2 diabetes is to eat foods that are low in sugar, low in fat, low in salt, and high in fibre. Your diet should consist mainly of natural foods (rather than processed foods) that are digested slowly. You should also avoid eggs and dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurts etc) and wash your meals down with plenty of water.
This diet is simple and easy to follow.
But, no matter what diet you are on, after a meal your blood glucose level will rise to a peak as your food is digested and then drop back to the level it was before you began eating. Ideally it will rise and fall gradually rather than spiking rapidly when you have finished eating.
Beating diabetes means stabilising your blood sugar levels so that you do not experience high peaks after your meals. You can avoid these spikes by following the Beating-Diabetes diet.
In order to ensure that your diet is effective in controlling your diabetes you must monitor your blood glucose level two hours after each meal to ensure that it has dropped back to its normal level. You should also check it first thing in the morning.
If you don’t monitor your blood glucose levels closely, you can never know how effective your diet is.
Besides monitoring, you also need to control the timing of your meals.
Timing your meals properly makes your diet even more effective.
Here are five tips on how to time your meals effectively:
- Eat breakfast
- Eat for work
- Eat little but often
- Before and after exercise
- No late-night snacks
Always … every day … without exception
If you don’t eat breakfast, your blood glucose levels may drop excessively low later in the morning. Should this happen, hormones will begin releasing stored glucose into your blood stream which will spike your numbers.
Skipping breakfast can also backfire in other ways. You may, for example, find yourself eating sugary or starchy foods when hunger overtakes you. Or you will be so hungry when finally you start eating that you overeat.
If you are strapped for time … which you can by getting up early enough for breakfast … eat some whole-wheat toast with peanut butter or a similar combination that balances a high fibre carb with a plant protein.
Eat for work
Think about where you are most active, at work and play, during the day. This will tell you when you should eat your main meals.
In other words, to help stabilise your blood glucose levels, you should eat the majority of your calories when you plan to use them.
Normally this would mean eating a larger breakfast and smaller and smaller meals as the day goes on, finishing up with a light dinner … or, as the old adage says … breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and sup like a pauper.
Eat little but often
Volume, the amount of food you eat at one sitting, affects your after-meal blood glucose levels. This is because your stomach starts digesting as much as it can as soon as you have swallowed your food.
For this reason, a good way to keep your blood glucose stable throughout the day is to eat smaller meals but often … thus avoiding dramatic peaks in your blood sugar levels.
The trick is never to eat so much that you feel over-full when you have finished. You should also start your next meal before you feel you are starving.
Before and after exercise
Regular exercise is a great help in regulating blood glucose levels.
For normal easy-on-the-body physical activities, such as walking or gardening, extra food is not really required before or after exercising.
But if you go in for intensive physical workouts that are more than an hour long, you may need to eat something before and after your exercise sessions to avoid having your blood glucose level drop too low.
The question is … how much should you eat?
Everyone’s body is different, so your answer can only be found by trial-and-error.
You can find out what suits you best by checking your blood glucose levels before, during and after a workout. After a few sessions you will have a good idea as to how your levels are reacting to the exercises you are doing.
If you find that your sugar level is getting too low during your exercise routines, eat a small snack such as a banana.
No late-night snacks
Eating before you go to bed can raise your blood glucose levels during the night and in the early morning.
In addition, eating heavy foods before going to bed can give rise to disrupted sleep patterns which can, in turn, affect the regulation of your hormones.
That said, there are times when you need to eat before going to bed … where, say, you are on medications that must be taken with food or you have other medical conditions.
But as a general rule you should avoid late night eating.