Eating for Hunger or Blood Sugar?
Food is a complicated concept for those of us with diabetes. In addition to eating for all of the normal reasons: hunger, enjoyment, socializing, boredom, etc. We also have to consume food or drink to correct low blood sugar or counteract dropping blood sugar. On rollercoaster blood sugar days, it can feel like I’m eating all day long. When I’ve been asked: “What’s the most frustrating part of diabetes?” I answer, “Not being able to eat what you want when you want, and having to eat when you don’t want to eat.”
I used to use lows as an excuse to eat something yummy that I normally avoid: cookies, chocolate, etc. But, that wasn’t satisfying because you can’t really enjoy a delicious piece of dark chocolate as you’re gobbling it up to treat hyperglycemia. Not to mention that those fatty treats aren’t the most efficient at raising blood sugar.
In order to simplify my snacking and keep my calorie intake in check, I’ve found it useful to categorize non-meal eating as either a “blood sugar treater” or a hunger snack. So, for lows I carry fruit leathers, mini boxes of raisins, or hard candies with me. At home I’ll grab one of my kids’ juice boxes or a handful of grapes from the fridge. Raisins and fruit leathers are not a snack I’d eat for hunger because they aren’t filling in relation to their carbohydrate content.
When I need a small snack between meals because I’m hungry (and my blood sugar is in range), I’ll eat a cheese stick, an ounce of almonds or cashews, a high protein granola bar, rolled up slices of turkey lunchmeat, or slices of avocado. These snacks are filling in relation to their carb count.
Throughout the day, when checking my blood and deciding what to eat, it’s really useful to ask myself, “What’s my goal? Raising my blood sugar? Satisfying hunger? Both?” This allows me to make the most efficient choice for a meal or snack, hopefully meaning that I can consume fewer calories while keeping my blood sugar in range and my hunger satiated.