Modern research would seem to indicate that a quarter of what we eat in total in the day is in snacks. Nothing at all wrong with that if you are taking into account the calories in those snacks. In fact many diabetics find it more comfortable and easier to eat little and often. Where these grazing habits become dangerous is when you are taking in empty calories such as artificially sweetened drinks or alcohol. It’s a funny thing but the body does not feel as satiated when it has drinks it doesn’t feel the fullness it would do with the equivalent amount of calories from solid food.
One of the most effective ways of cutting down on portion sizes, is to be aware of what you are eating. That means that when you eat you don’t sit in front of the television and just stuff calories in your mouth. You have to take the time to concentrate fully on what you are eating. That means you are not having any distractions of your phone, or outside noises or anything else you are just concentrating on eating. It also helps to chew your food well and eat very slowly. It takes at least half an hour for the stomach to tell the brain that it has had enough to eat. It can’t do so if you bolt the food down.
Another great way to cut down on calories is to use a smaller plate. In Leo’s case when he was first starting to cure his diabetes I actually dug out my grandparents dinner service. There were only three plates left but they were substantially smaller than modern plates. You don’t have to use this option it is possible to buy a small plate just for you. Many people dismiss this as being overly simplistic but try it for a week and it doesn’t work what have you lost?
Stop your meal when you have eaten about 12 my bites, put down your fork and rest for two minutes. Check on your hunger and fullness signals. One way that works for me is to start eating and really meditate and concentrate on the food you’re eating and realise how exquisite it is. Be aware of its taste, aroma and texture. The very first time you put a forkful of food in your mouth and it doesn’t taste as exquisite stop. That is stop eating immediately because you no longer want that food. If this doesn’t work for you take a 10 minute break halfway through your meal and decide whether you want to resume eating. Leo tended to bolt his food down and for a while I gave him chopsticks. He could manage with chopsticks but it couldn’t shovel as much food into his mouth as quickly. Whatever it takes you need to slow down your pace of eating substantially.
It is certainly possible to overeat on healthy foods. Quite a lot of people eat a massive bowl of fruit salad. However it is rather difficult to overeat when you are eating raw broccoli. It’s not the raw broccoli doesn’t taste good but it takes so long to chew that it is difficult to overeat. Choose to eat proteins with healthy fats and slow burning carbs most of which come from vegetables and fruits. This makes it less likely that you will overeat.
This is complicated to some degree when you go out to a restaurant to eat but it is not impossible to choose healthy options stop you can choose to eat bulgur wheat, quinoa, barley or even teff as your carbohydrates. If none of these carbohydrate options are available choose one very small new potato and add another portion of vegetables. When deciding on a protein choose fish, nuts, lentils eggs, grass fed beef, free range poultry or cottage cheese. Don’t forget when you are eating try to add one colour from the seven colours of the rainbow to your diet every day. Blueberries, aubergines, pumpkin everything with a splash of colour.
Of course if you go out once in a blue moon for your anniversary dinner then by all means eat what you like as a special treat. The reality these days though is that most people eat out at least once a week. It’s easier to be more strict with yourself when you know you can eat out again soon. Another point to mention no when you are ordering food in a restaurant distinct shapes and amounts are much easier to gauge in terms of portions are big blob of mashed potatoes is rather difficult to tell as is a huge mound of macaroni cheese. If you eat a small baked potato with salad and steamed fish you know how much potato you are eating.
That doesn’t mean a course that you can have pasta but it does mean that it shouldn’t be the main focus of your meal. Cook it primavera style large amounts of spring vegetables or black beans with lots of garlic and fresh herbs. We tend to eat what we see so be careful what you put on your plate. Eating five or six mini meals can be an effective weight management system for diabetics. However it is not a one fit for all answer. Leo loves to eat little and often but I love to eat once a day. If I have a little breakfast then it leads to a little snack and an even bigger lunch and then a bigger snack and then a big hot chocolate to keep me going about 5 o’clock and finally a dinner.
The downside of eating once a day when I also cook means that I can be in the kitchen when I’m starving hungry. My first task in the kitchen is to peel a carrot and chop into bite size chunks or cut down some broccoli and I graze whilst cooking dinner. These days dinner tends to be a very quick affair because I want my food to be very clean and not messed about. Let’s get real here how much raw broccoli can you eating 20 minutes?
However if you stick a bowl of peanuts in front of you when you are quickly you can easily eat for 500 cal without even noticing. Try also not to be the human dustbin after meals. It is also easy to pop food in your mouth rather than put it in the dustbin. There are very good reasons for this you hate to throw away good food but by putting in your mouth you could be eating an extra for 500 cal a day you are not even noticing because you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing.
If this is your mode of eating track your snacks for a week. Don’t worry about calorie counts or anything else just write down how much you eat and when. The handful of potato chips you grab from your son’s desk, the jellybeans you find in the dashboard of your car. At the end of the week at all this amount up you may find that the amount surprises you. However you may also find the triggers that makes you do this mindless eating, maybe you are bored or tired because it almost for sure that you were not hungry. Make notes and see if there’s an opportunity to change the way you snack and graze at the diabetic.