Our good friend Phill is back again and he's ready to blog about more lessons he's learned while living with diabetes for the past two decades.
This time around Phill tackles a subject that's extremely near and dear to my heart -- and that's the tasty matter of snacking.
Take it away Phill... and be sure to enjoy that time away with the kids.
By the way, that's Phill pictured at left. As you can see from his ear-to-ear grin, family man Phill hasn't let a little thing like diabetes dim his tremendous joy for life.
In my last blog here on DiettoGo.com, I revealed that my No. 1 Rule for living with diabetes was: It's the habits that kill you, not the treats. Today, I'm going to back up that advice by offering some advice on a subject we all love: Snacking!
Those extra treats between meals can make those long days pass by so much more quickly, but when you have diabetes snacks can push your blood sugars through the roof, too!
Choose your snacks carefully and you'll still enjoy tucking into some of your favorite treats compromising your health or your blood sugar control.
Pick Carb-Free Treats
Snacks don't have to be sweet. Not only does sugar push your blood results too high and make you feel drowsy, but it leaves you feeling hungry again when the rush subsides. Oh, and it rots your teeth too. So choose a mix of roasted seeds, nuts, maize and rice crackers for an almost carb-free alternative.
The small size of most snacks like this also makes them perfect for nibbling away as you go through you day. I usually have something like this on my desk. You can check out more about what I do on my blog. But take note: The Graze service is only available in the United Kingdom.
Watch Your Calories!
We get a lot of our calories from carbohydrates, which is why cutting down on potatoes, rice and pasta will usually help with weight loss. However, be careful! Fats, oils and protein-based snacks also contain calories.
A portion of roasted seeds (a portion being a couple of handfuls) will contain about 200 calories, so make allowances for that. Don't expect to lose weight just because you've switched from a small chocolate bar to a cup of pumpkin seeds!
Make Your Own
I find that preparing your own snacks helps in two ways.
One: You know exactly what's in them so you're aware of what's going into your stomach and your bloodstream. This helps you to avoid added sugars, fats and unhelpful flavor enhancers.
Two: The food you make yourself is food you can appreciate, knowing how much love and effort has been put into the preparation. As a bonus, the time you take to make snacks is usually time when you're not eating snacks!
I made a wonderful tomato and roasted red pepper soup last weekend. It has no added sugar and no cream or thickeners. It's totally fat and carbohydrate-free and tastes fantastic.
I may share the recipe with you in a future blog post but for now, think about your own recipes and spend a little time preparing your own body-healthy snack treats!
Learn the Labels
Know what you're putting into your body. I was lucky enough to be a student living on my own when I was diagnosed with diabetes. I spent time learning the main nutritional values of my key foods.
To manage your blood sugars and to live healthily with diabetes, you will need to know what's in your food so you can medicate properly and be ready for how the food will affect you.
Check the total carbs -- the carbs from sugar and the fiber content, in particular, to manage your blood sugar levels. Sometimes, sugar-free alternatives of your favorites are available just along the shelf from the treats you usually buy.
Check the fats -- especially the saturated fats -- to make sure you're looking after your heart and arteries. Look after your body and it will repay you.
Support Your Sport with Snacks
Eat a healthy snack to keep your blood sugars stable during activity. Any sport or hobby which gets you into a sweat will bring your blood sugars down. This is usually a good thing, but don't let yourself go hypo!
Eat a piece of fruit or a healthy mixed carb snack like a granola bar while you work out, run or cycle. Food tastes so much better when your body's using it.
If you're anything like me, snacking will be one of your favorite pastimes. Without limits, I would eat peanuts and chocolate until I exploded in a comic-book KAPOW! of a sticky mess.
But we all know we can't do it. Test your blood sugars regularly and learn how different types of snacks affect you.
So please enjoy your food. Build up the good habits that will keep you healthy. Stay active, work hard and remember what it is that you want to stay healthy for.
But enjoy your treats too. Snacks can even help you to manage your diabetes if you manage your snacking too!
Phill Connell is a food lover, cyclist and Dad. An insulin-dependent diabetic of 20 years, living with diabetes for Phill is just... well, it's just living. Staying fit and active to watch his family grow is what gets him up the mornings. Phill also writes his own blog to share the adventure.