Food and eating can be one of the most confusing and overwhelming aspects of living well with diabetes. Today we get some help and info from mySugr Coaches Kristen and Maggie.
Let's discuss some popular topics regarding meal planning.
Note: We cannot provide medical advice. Please contact your doctor directly for specific questions about your care.
- Benefits of meal planning
- What are macros?
- How to balance your plate
Scott K. Johnson - Hey, great to see you. Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Coaches Corner. We would love to know where you're watching from, let us know in the comments. One small way that mySugr is giving back is by hosting these short conversations with our diabetes coaches to talk about staying healthy, in body and mind. And we appreciate you sharing some time with us. Now, I do have to give the standard disclaimer. We cannot provide medical advice, please contact your doctor directly for specific questions about your care. Today we're asking my sugar coaches Kristen and Maggie. Is there such a thing as a diabetic meal plan? Alright, hi, Kristen. Hi, Maggie. Great to see you again. So, food is a huge part of living well with diabetes, which begs the question. Is there a diabetic meal plan? Or should you follow a meal plan for diabetes management?
Kristen Bourque - I think that Maggie and I as being dieticians probably get this question quite frequently. Because I think there's a lot of confusion around, you know, what should we eat with diabetes? So, in regards to a specific meal plan, I think just I know, it's a very general answer, but it really is, it really depends on the individual. We do recommend having some sort of idea of what the week ahead has, you know, in store for us in the sense of meal planning? Because it does help us to kind of stay a little bit more on track, mostly with healthy eating. And also, of course, as we know, keeps us on track with our budget, as well, but I think having an idea can really help us to aim to incorporate more nutrient dense foods in our day. So if I'm just kind of winging it throughout my day, I might not be as inclined to again, have a side salad or have some carrots as a snack or something like that, but if I'm kind of planning ahead, and I have an idea of that it really does help. I did want to say, I think we both kind of can agree on this, as we don't want people to feel like they have to sit in this box. I can only follow these certain foods, though. So I think that's what's important to remember about that whole idea of a meal plan is, you can have fun with it and play around with it and use it kind of as a loose guideline, so to speak, to kind of help you stay on track and plan your meals better, essentially.
Maggie Evans - And I think with meal planning, it just helped relieve some stress too, right? If I'm posed with needing to make a decision of what I'm going to to eat right in the moment, that might be kind of stressful, but if I already have a rough idea of what I'm going to to eat throughout the week, that takes a lot of that pressure off of me to just kind of follow through with what I had originally planned at the beginning of the week.
Kristen Bourque - I love that.
Scott K. Johnson - Just a couple of thoughts that come out of what both of you have just said. One. Kristen you mentioned that it's part of just healthy eating, right? And so I love the fact that it's not necessarily diabetes specific, but it's just healthy eating like a structured meal plan is something that is good for everybody, every human being diabetes or not. And Maggie you talked about relieving stress. And it's funny, because having gone through this myself, a handful of times when I approached the idea of creating a meal plan, that at first feels stressful, but after I've gone through the exercise, and start living the plan I've created, it's actually quite relieving. And it takes away some of that decision fatigue that exists and maybe that's a topic that we can dive into in another episode, but the fact that I don't have to think about what I'm going to eat and how it will affect my blood sugars and all of that, like I already know, and I don't have to think about that. I love that idea. A topic that I've heard a lot about is counting macros, it seems to be a popular way of eating these days. Can you tell us a little bit more about what does that even mean, "counting macros?" And is it necessary?
Maggie Evans - I think one of the first things that we always want to clarify is what the heck are macros? Right? I think this word gets thrown around like willy nilly. And maybe we don't always know what these things mean. Macros really just refer to macronutrients. So we have four main macronutrients that are basically foods that provide nutrients that provide us calories, so calories that give us energy to live. Basically, those four macronutrients are going to be carbohydrates, protein, fat and alcohol. so we know that these four food groups provide a certain amount of calories. Now with counting macros, really what that is, it helps provide some people structure in their way of eating. So by allocating your macronutrients kind of allowance for the day, it helps people kind of stick with kind of a calorie allowance for the day so they know that they're eating the proper amount of calories for them on a day to day basis. And then also depending on their goals and needs, they can structure their macronutrients balance for what they specifically need. So a lot of people really like that cause it's a kind of structured, a little bit more structure and allows them to just kind of have a set thing to follow throughout the day and they can allocate their macros their macronutrients throughout the day for their meals as they need to.
Kristen Bourque - I also think too kind of going on what Maggie is mentioning too, is it I think also teaches us about in a way a portion control because especially with carbohydrates being you know, macronutrient that hugely impacts blood sugar, right? Completely, is it's very easy to kind of underestimate sometimes certain portion sizes, especially of certain foods. So, you know, learning, okay, a serving of rice as a third of a cup, that can be, you know, very helpful and again, we say don't have to stick to that exactly, but it can be also a good learning tool to have a little bit better of understanding is that, foods in general, aren't necessarily all bad and good, but again, with carbohydrates, it gives us a good understanding of which foods maybe I can get I don't want to say a larger serving of but essentially kind of which foods will impact my blood sugar more than such as well, too.
Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, I think that's really really important to understand, especially if I'm new to diabetes, and I don't, I'm just kind of feeling overwhelmed by some of these changes I'm expected to make in my food management and what makes my blood sugar go up and down, I don't really have an idea, that kind of thing. So having a way to start learning that makes so much sense.
Kristen Bourque - Especially cause the outside world, right? Everything we see larger plates, your larger utensils, oh, we also are kind of a little bit confused. I think just in you know, the, the time that we live in because everything is just such a large portion size too. So that also confuses us. as you look I don't know example of fries, years ago, you know, it was a small, regular fry was a kid sized fry now today, so that's also confusing for consumers and people with diabetes. So yeah, you're exactly right, Scott.
Scott K. Johnson - Yeah.
Maggie Evans - And I think recognizing too, that just carbohydrate counting itself is a form of macronutrient.
Kristen Bourque - Yes, certain yes.
Maggie Evans - Counting macros, right? So in in the realm of diabetes, we may not necessarily have to meticulously track protein and fat as well. But having a rough idea of how many carbohydrates we're eating throughout the day and other meals can be really helpful. And yet again, like Kristen had talked about, it helps us learn about portion sizes, it helps us learn more about how these specific carbohydrate based foods are affecting blood sugar as well.
Scott K. Johnson - That's really great. I love the idea that, and I hadn't thought about that until you mentioned it, just simply counting my carbohydrates, which is something I do as a regular part of taking care of my diabetes. That is, I am counting macros, because when I first heard that phrase, I thought that it meant I had to count all of my macronutrients and that totally overwhelms me.
Kristen Bourque - And I think too a lot of times people get a little overwhelmed with the idea of maybe their newly diagnosed diabetes, I have to change everything about the way I eat and kind of what we're just reiterating is no not at all. It's just being again more mindful, more aware. Keeping the foods that you still like and enjoy, whether it's maybe again, foods that you grew up with or foods that you are comforting to you. So I think that's also important to remember is that it's still about keeping that part of it to it just being again, more mindful and aware. And like you said, healthy eating essentially for everyone. It's not saying that you have to fit inside this box just cause you have diabetes. No, it's just focusing on healthy good quality food and portion control. Yeah.
Scott K. Johnson - Right. So what are some ways that we can take some steps forward and start easily putting a little structure around our meals?
Maggie Evans - I really like to give things basic, basic recommendations. So it doesn't have to be this new complicated thing to think about. simply looking at your blank plate. You can look at your plate and use that as your guide to help kind of set up how you're going to portion out certain foods. This is something that we just kind of referred to as a plate method. So you can think of your plate as your blank slate and you think of half your plate, you want to try and dedicate to some of those non starchy vegetables. The other quarter of your plate is going to be dedicated to some type of lean protein or plant based protein. And then the other quarter of your plate is then dedicated to some type of starchier carb, something, maybe a little bit more like a complex carb, something like that. Like your potatoes, your rice, your breads, things like that, which gives you a nice balance of kind of all the different food groups and kind of helps make sure that you're getting a wide variety of different nutrients. Notice it's not specific foods and you have to eat this, this, this and this. I think that's what most people kind of think of when it comes to meal planning is that Oh, just give me a list of the foods I should eat once once I shouldn't. There really should be a lot of room for variety. And for personal food choice in there, because if I give you a meal plan, that's chicken, brown rice and veggies, and you don't like chicken or brown rice, are you going to eat? Is that realistic? So thinking of that somewhat structure, loose structure, but really allows opportunity for incorporating foods that you enjoy as well, is one way of meal planning and prepping.
Kristen Bourque - And I also like how Maggie said, in a sense, you know, a meal plan. It's not really, like I said, we gave you a list, it doesn't really teach us much so, say, for example, you get invited to a barbecue, and you look at all the food options, you going to be like, I don't know, this isn't on my list per se, you know? So essentially, I can use that kind of healthy plate tool and say, Okay, I'm going to build a plate based on what's available for me. So it really helps that the individual with diabetes kind of also have a guideline and, like Maggie said, putting the foods that you still like and enjoy in that plate too. So if you don't have a plate per se, I don't know, if you're have a bowl or something like, you could also use your hands as good measurements for those kind of foods that we're talking about. So if we think about our fist, so to closed fists worth of vegetables ideally. So, say if I'm again, putting some sort of a salad together, I can make sure and have a nice big base for my my veggies there. Generally a good rule of thumb is having our palm of our hand be our source of protein. Or you can think of like even a deck of cards or something like that, too. This is when we tend to oftentimes, you think about you go to a restaurant, it's half the plate is usually some sort of protein. So being mindful of a little bit less protein as well on our plate. And then again, going back to those kind of carbohydrate foods, if it's the rice, the pasta, some sort of green, or starchy vegetable, roughly about one closed fistful for those grains as well.
Scott K. Johnson - Great, those are great, great tips and tricks. And I love that we've got some options for trying some things and figuring out what works best for us. And that's really what it comes down to. Now how do we know if what we're doing is working? So say we try something for a while. We want to know if what we're doing is working, right?
Maggie Evans - The beauty with diabetes, is that we have that direct kind of data that we can collect, right? That blood sugar check, is going to be one of the best indicators to help us know, is this meal plan working, is what I'm kind of putting on my plate. Are those foods working for me in my diet, in my diabetes management, or is there something that I can tweak? So that's really where yet again, that routine checking, reviewing that data with your healthcare team with your diabetes care team can really be helpful and kind of moving forward and making those small adjustments and tweaks to your meal plan moving forward. And that's what we as your coaches, what we thrive on what we love doing is getting down with that data. And then how do we apply that? How do we make those changes moving forward?
Scott K. Johnson - That's great. I love that. One of the other things that I like about using coaches or having help on my team is as I'm getting a little bit deeper into meal plan or changes in my diet is if I'm struggling around certain swap outs, or I'm trying to make changes I can talk with, hey, Kristen, I'm trying to swap this or that. And I like the effect it has on my blood sugar, but I really don't like the texture or the time it takes to cook this, like what are some other ideas I can try and you guys are so good at having different ideas to try or different approaches and being able to talk those things out with you, gives me so many different perspectives to approach the problems from, so it's really a useful approach to coming at things from many different angles. So, it's great, I love it thank you.
Kristen Bourque - Thanks Scott
Maggie Evans - Thank you
Scott K. Johnson - Anything else that you want to talk about before we wrap up this session?
Kristen Bourque - I think it's just important to remember too is that it's all about balance. And it's all about small changes. I think when we have the idea, we have to completely overhaul our diet, it can be again overwhelming and very hard to stick to. So it's important to still keep the foods you like keep your favorites in there, if there's some cultural preferences, things like that. It's all about making these foods that you enjoy and love fit into this kind of lifestyle. So, I think that's important to remember is you don't have to eliminate foods that are also enjoyable because food should be enjoyed, right? So that's the important part of it too is we want to marry the two healthy eating and foods that we love.
Maggie Evans - Yeah, and just having fun with it too. That's one thing I really try to encourage. And I think Kristen encourages too, is having fun with your food and having fun with your plan too. So, maybe you're planning for Saturday night and have that fun meal that you've been wanting, you know, kind of all week as a way to kind of celebrate just that it's Saturday. And so there's so much more to food than just health and diabetes management and things like that. So appreciating food for all that it is and that it does have these other aspects in our lives that we want to pay attention to, cause if we purely look at food from that health perspective, it's going to be a lot harder to stick to, so we want to kind of pay attention to those other parameters as well.
Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, great points. Thanks for bringing that up. All right, another great session. We will see you both again very soon. Thank you.
Kristen Bourque - Thanks
Scott K. Johnson - All right. I hope that was helpful. Special special thanks to Mandie, Kathi, Tracy, it's always so good to see you here episode after episode it puts a big huge smile on my face. And Carol, I want to just mention your comments are so relatable to me. I also when I get tired and stressed I start reaching for foods that are not necessarily the best decisions for my blood sugars and that happens to, I would say, almost all of us out there and one of the biggest skills that you can build in your diabetes skill box is the ability to kind of recognize when things are going off track and building ways to make small steps back in the right direction. So please don't be too hard on yourself when that happens, it happens I think to everybody with diabetes or without the thing with diabetes, as Maggie talked about is that we just get to see it a little more directly when we're watching those blood sugars. So keep trying things keep experimenting, keep checking your blood sugars and watching those numbers and see what works best for you. And it's totally fine to make small changes. And one of my favorite mantras is focus on progress, not perfection. So, with that, if you have additional questions or want us to dive a bit deeper, go ahead and leave us those questions or comments in the comments and we'll be happy to follow up and address them in an upcoming episode. I hope you'll come back on Friday for another fun episode. I hope to see you there. Until then, stay well and we will see you next time. Bye.