- To learn how to “eat to your meter.”
- Develop a “safe foods” list.
- To find or create diabetic-friendly recipes using ingredients from your “safe foods” list.
- To create your own customized menus and meal plans using “safe foods” and recipes you have created or collected.
- Your weekly (or monthly) shopping list should include only items from your “safe foods” list.
Time Frame: Ongoing as needed.
What was your last A1C result? What is your daily average blood glucose?
Anyone with an A1C over 5.1% or a daily average blood glucose over 100 mg/dL or 6.0 mmol/l should be using their glucose meter on a regular basis!
My doctor has prescribed a supply of 300 test strips for a 3-month supply, meaning I can (and should) test three (3) times a day. I always test my fasting blood glucose (FBG) first thing in the morning before eating, drinking, or doing anything else. And I test at bedtime. The third test time varies: sometimes pre-meal, sometimes post-meal.
However, if I want to test for a specific food, either a new food (or recipe) or one that I haven’t tested for a while, I may test up to 6 or more times during a single day. Here’s how to test:
- Baseline: Test pre-meal to get a fasting baseline. Ideally, you should have a non-diabetic normal of 70-99 mg/dL (or 3.8-5.6 mmol/l). If it’s higher than that, it’s okay. Just write it down.
- Blood sugar peak: Test one (1) hour after taking the first bite of your meal because that’s when blood sugar typically peaks. If you are clearly diabetic, it may not peak until 90 minutes after the start of your meal. If your blood sugar raises more than 20-30 mg/dL (or more than 1.4-2.0 mmol/l), that’s a red flag that the food being tested may not be a suitable one to include in your diet.
- Blood sugar normalization: Test two (2) to three (3) hours after taking the first bite of your meal as that is when your blood sugar should come back down to close to your pre-meal number. If it does not, keep testing!
- Delayed blood sugar peak and normalization: If your meal is high in fiber (such as whole grains and legumes) or if it is high in protein of any kind, test again at four (4), five (5) or even (6) hours after said meal, because high-fiber high-protein meals typically take longer to digest and may cause your blood sugar to remain high for several hours after the meal.
- Repeat this testing process for a specific food several times on different days. Make sure the rest of the content of the meal stays consistent. Keep accurate records with dates and test results.
Kelley Pounds, a Registered Nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator, writes this:
“If you have diabetes, you may also be familiar with the ADA (American Diabetes Association) targets of <130 pre-meal and <180 post-meal. PLEASE DISREGARD THESE TARGETS. These targets WILL NOT protect you from serious diabetes complications. Just because these are considered ‘average’ or ‘normal’ diabetic blood glucose levels, it is also ‘normal’ for many with diabetes to develop heart and kidney disease, strokes, and undergo amputations. These are considered just part of the ‘normal’ progression of diabetes by organizations like the ADA.”
You do not need a prescription to get a glucose meter and test strips, but if you have insurance, the cost will be much less. If you don’t have insurance that covers a meter and test strips, you can purchase house brands cost-effectively at Walmart (ReliOn brand is the most popular), Walgreen’s, or CVS. Check your local stores or online for current prices.
The idea behind testing at 1 hr and 2 hrs is based on the premise that your blood sugar will peak at 1 hr after eating the first bite, and that blood sugar will go back down to normal at 2 hrs. This doesn’t work for people who have gastroparesis or after a meal that is high in fiber and/or protein, which causes digestion to take much longer. You will just have to experiment with your timing for blood sugar peaking and blood sugar normalization.
What you need in your kitchen
- Sets of accurate measuring spoons and measuring cups, in oz., grams, or ml. or all of the above
- Reliable kitchen scale, measuring in grams and ounces. May be manual or digital.
Develop Your Customized “Safe” Food List
Many times members will ask us for an approved food list for a diabetic-friendly meal plan. We can’t do that for you, because you are a unique individual, with your own level of diabetic health, possibly complicated by other health/medical issues. You have a specific dietary lifestyle, which may be dietary vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, or Adventist non-vegetarian or pescatarian. You have your diabetes dietary protocol, which may be LCHF (low-carb high-healthy-fat, moderate protein), WFPB (high-carb low- or no-fat whole-food dietary vegan), ADA-compliant (following American Diabetes Association recommendations), or something else in between or a combination of the above.
For many of us, abstemiousness includes eliminating foods with most chemical additives, high fructose corn syrup, GMO ingredients, most artificial sweeteners (especially aspartame, as it’s a trigger for migraines for me), and MSG (also a trigger for migraines). For the lactose-intolerant, it would be dairy products. For those with celiac disease, it would be gluten. For some diabetics with arthritis, it would include nightshades. Some people have other specific food allergies, such as to tree nuts, or have made choices to abstain from specific foods, such as soy.
Adventist Vegetarian Diabetics recommends eating whole foods in as close to their natural state as possible. You can eat whole-foods plant-based, whole-foods animal*-based, or whole-foods plant- and animal*-based. You can eat whole foods no matter what your dietary lifestyle and diabetes dietary protocol.
This is a good place to remind you to completely avoid trans fats, such as margarine, shortening, and vegetable/seed oils manufactured with high heat and chemicals (canola, corn, cottonseed, grapeseed, safflower, soy, and sunflower oils). Also, continue to eliminate most processed foods, especially highly refined carbohydrates, such as any foods made with white flour and white sugar.
Avoid juices as well as juice drinks, both fruit and vegetable, and dried fruit, as they are concentrated sugar. Juices are lacking the fiber content of whole foods. Even smoothies, made by liquefying fruits and vegetables, are not really healthy choices for diabetics. And skip protein shakes and protein powders; they are processed foods!
We recommend that you start with the list of “safe” foods that you created from eating to your meter and/or with a basic food list (see “What Can I Eat?” for examples).
*clean animals, per Leviticus and Deuteronomy
Your Recipe Collection
You probably already have a recipe collection, on cards, in binders, or digital copies. Now is the time to take a new look at your recipes and discard any that are not diabetic-friendly (or at least put them in the back of the file!). It’s also time to add new recipes that are diabetic-friendly, using only ingredients from your customized safe food list.
Menus and Meal Plans
Frankly, I have never found a meal plan developed by someone else to be a perfect fit for me. This is a perfect application of what it means “to be a thinker and not mere reflector of other [people’s] thought” (Education, p. 17). But sometimes you can start with someone else’s menu or meal plan and edit it to fit your needs.
- A menu is a list of foods and beverages for a single meal or event.
- A meal plan consists of menus for all the eating times in a day or a week or other time period. Take leftovers into consideration as well as meals that you take with you or eat at a restaurant or someone else’s home.
And here we have come full circle! Your grocery shopping list should look pretty much like your customized “safe” food list, with the addition of whatever cooking and baking products you might need (as long as they are diabetic-friendly).
Dr. Joe. “Eating to Your Meter – A Missing Piece of The Optimizing Your Blood Sugar and Your Health Puzzle,” Dr Joe’s Health Beats n.d. https://thedrjoe.com/eating-to-your-meter/ (accessed 7/17/2020).
Article contains two videos:
- Dr. Fuhrman and Dr. McDougall, “What Is the Healthiest Diet?” [13:25]
- Dr. Sarah Hallberg on LCHF [29:39]
Pounds, Kelley, RD. “Eat to Your Meter,” Low Carb RN (CDE) (April 4, 2016). https://lowcarbrn.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/eat-to-your-meter/ (accessed on 7/17/2020).
Ruhl, Jenny. “How to Lower Your Blood Sugar,” Blood Sugar 101 ©2018 Janet Ruhl. https://www.bloodsugar101.com/how-to-lower-your-blood-sugar (accessed on 7/17/2020).
“Try Our Recipe Nutrition Calculator,” Very Well Fit n.d. https://www.verywellfit.com/recipe-nutrition-analyzer-4157076 (accessed on 7/17/2020).
Prints out a Nutrition Information label based on the ingredients you enter.
VeeJay, Moderator. “Eat-to-your-meter testing method,” Diabetes Forum (March 5, 2016).
https://www.diabetesforum.com/diabetes-treatment/78730-eat-your-meter-testing-method.html (accessed on 7/17/2020).
White, Ellen G. Education. Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1903. https://adventistbookcenter.com/education-chl.html (accessed on 7/24/2020).