For Diabetes – When to eat

Should I eat at specific times?
No, but if you know when your pills or insulin work, you can make sure that your meals or snacks coincide with these times – your health professional will help you identify when this is. For example, some pills may make your blood glucose level drop mid-morning or mid-afternoon, in which case you might need to eat a snack at these times to compensate. If you can’t eat when you need to, perhaps because of long shifts or meetings at work, talk to your health professional to see if there are different medications that may suit your routine better.

Why is it important for me to eat regular meals?
Regularly eating meals containing carbohydrate will give you energy, help your digestive system function properly, and help avoid sharp rises and falls in your blood glucose level. Regular meals also prevent you from needing additional snacks to compensate for meals you have missed. A regular eating pattern is more likely to fit in with any pills or insulin that you take for your diabetes.

I normally eat one large meal a day – is that alright?
If you have only one large meal a day, your body may struggle to use all the energy this meal provides. The extra calories will be stored as fat and this could contribute to an increase in your weight. Your body will also be deprived of energy at other times of day when you are not eating. Your blood glucose levels, and whether you have hypoglycemic attacks, will tell you if your eating pattern is suiting your diabetes.

Should I have snacks during the day?
Not everyone needs to, but if you inject insulin or take insulin-stimulating pills, you may find that you need a snack around the time when your insulin or pill is having its peak effect. If this is the case for you, making sure that your snacks are low in fat will help prevent you from putting on weight.

If I get hungry between meals, what should I snack on?
Vegetables, low-fat yogurts and milkshakes, and fresh and dried fruit are healthy snacks. They are low in calories and contain beneficial vitamins and minerals. Having a variety of these snacks throughout the day, if you need them, will help your blood glucose stay balanced.

What is the maximum time I should leave between meals?
There is no maximum time, but you may find that you get hungry if you leave long gaps between meals, which might tempt you to eat unhealthy snacks or larger meals, which can then cause your blood glucose level to rise. Making your mealtimes fit both your daily routine and any blood glucose lowering medication you take is more important than the exact time between meals.

What happens if I am fasting?
When you go without food, you may need to adjust the dosage of your tablets or insulin for both the period that you are fasting and the times that you are eating. Talk with your health professional to work out what will best suit your circumstances.

It seems like I’ll be eating more now I have diabetes. I’m already overweight – what can I do?
Rearranging the times and amounts you eat rather than eating more can help you lose or avoid gaining weight. Choosing lower-fat foods in general, and low-calorie alternatives as snacks, will also help keep your weight under control.

I’m trying to cut down on how much fat I eat – what can I do to make this easier?
You can reduce your fat intake by choosing foods such as low-fat margarines, crème fratche, and Greek yogurt, or low-fat fromage frais instead of standard yogurt or cream. Fish and poultry are lower in fat than red meat, and leaner cuts of meat help reduce your fat intake. Nuts, seeds, and oily fish provide essential fatty acids that can help prevent heart disease. Grilling meat instead of frying it and draining excess fat during cooking are other ways of cutting down on fat. Avoiding processed foods and pastry-based snacks will also help.

How can I add extra fiber to my food every day?
Adding extra fruit to breakfast cereals and yogurts, and having fruit and vegetable snacks instead of fatty foods will increase your fiber intake. So will eating high-fiber snacks, such as chopped raw vegetables. Yu can also add beans or vegetables to dishes such as shepherd’s pie and chili corn carne.

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