Snacking right with Type 1 Diabetes
One of the biggest changes that came about for me post my diagnosis was, of course in the food that I could (or rather not consume) any more. Another aspect that took its time to figure was monitoring the gaps and duration between gulping down anything and everything that was in my sight (read binge eating/ snacking between meals).Never having had a regular or pre-decided eating schedule before, this was hard to incorporate in my daily routine and took its own time.
Being put on an insulin therapy as type 1 diabetics, the one big change we all face is how, when and what we eat. This means that your food intake and your insulin regime must have structure and order. And your insulin must map and cover your food spikes.
When I had my first session with the diabetes educator at my Endo's office, she put a very strict eating schedule in place for me. Three home cooked Indian food meals and no binge eating on anything in between. She gave me a list of five (literally five things!) that I was allowed to eat in between my meals and even my breakfast, lunch and dinner was supposed to be homemade meals. I stay put on that meal plan for over a year and a half. As I resumed office, I would take my breakfast at home, carry homemade lunch to work, take one snack (always some sort of fruit) and then eat my dinner back home. This meant I couldn’t stay back late at work. And that meant I would miss out on work deadlines sometimes.
Also, I could actually work long hours but I did tend to keep snacking on some munchies. My pre-diabetes munch goodies (read chips!) would sound cringe worthy to the low carb gang in the readers. While my snacking preferences may have changed, what hasn’t changed is the urge to snack. Also, as they say, when in Rome do as Romans do. So sitting with your co- workers and not binge eating becomes quite a task.
After a year and a half of being on the pre-written meal schedule with no alternatives, I started reading online and understanding how I could move away from this very strict regimented food intake. I had made peace with pizza not being a breakfast food and I have grown to actually enjoy and appreciate the home cooked food in the last couple of years. But what I couldn’t or still haven’t been able to curb are my in-between meal binges. I used to be the biggest lays chips (or any chips) advocate. I truly feel, potato chips are this universe’s gift to mankind. And so when I knew I couldn’t eat them, I tried figuring out few other alternatives. I then had to find myself options that were literally zero or low carbs. While your choice of mid meal snacks isn’t supposed to be zero or low carb, I choose to do that because I don’t wish to bolus in between my meals unless I am going in for a correction dose. I am going to list my fav few below. Now I am not saying everything mentioned below is zero carbs and really if one thing I have learnt is, the same food could spike one person and not the other (case in point, corn in any form. Imagine the plight of poor me now who watches movies without popcorn to snack on!)
But what to snack and how to go about as a responsible T1 is a million dollar question. I shall try and demystify that just a wee bit in this article.
Dear Fellow Snackaholics and Nibbleheads. If you have nodded wildly through most of this article, I'm your home girl. I am going to list down a couple of points about snacking between meals at work place:
1. Identify what to snack on. Ideally you would want your munchies to be something you don't have to bolus for. Or perhaps something that does not spike your sugars but keeps you full till your next big meal. If you are one of those awesome folks who have macro-nutrient goals for the day, then perhaps you might want to snack to suit your calorie/ protein/ carb intake plan. Your macro-aim, will nicely guide your snacking game.
2. Pre- plan your eating schedule for the week, as much as you plan your working schedule. It helps you breathe easy. Unless you are one of those who can really work with just two meals a day, I suggest you plan your mid meal snacking for a week as well. (And then stick to it!) I for e.g., don't go without food for more than 2 -3 hours, and it works well for me. Often, being on an empty stomach for long periods can mess up my BG levels big time. But this is just me.
3. ALWAYS keep your binge stash available just as much as your hypo stash. It helps you to resist the cravings of eating things you ideally should not.
4. Sensitise your work colleagues about your eating preferences and requirements: It’s best to get your colleagues to understand what you can and can’t eat. If it helps, get your work colleagues to eat your mid meal snacks with you. Also, I recently spoke to somebody who said that they go long periods without eating food because of work. That is not the most ideal thing to do either. It can put you at a risk of hypoglycaemia. Hence I always emphasise on letting your work people in on the basics of type 1 diabetes. They are, after all, the people you spend most of your time with.
These points have been very helpful for me in curbing my cravings to eat anything and everything that floats around the office.
Want more details? Here goes my list of snack stash that I keep at work:
1. Fruits - The ones that I truly enjoy are Guava, Kiwi or apple. With a little cinnamon powder sprinkled, they make for an ideal mid meal snack. They are super filling too. I normally bolus for the apple and take 1 unit of insulin but I do not bolus for the guava or a kiwi.
2. Greek yogurt- I have very recently taken to Greek yogurt. While any yogurt would do, I quite like the creamy taste it has. Throw in a few nuts and you are good to go! I tried putting stevia but, turns out I am not a fan. Also I don’t really have a sweet tooth except chocolates (because why not?) so I am kind of cool with not having anything sweet. Another version of this is to put grated cucumber, tomato and onion in it. I have this for lunch every day.
3. Nuts and Black tea- I survive on tea, it’s the truth. As much as I pride on taking healthy proportion and choices of snack at work, I am guilty as charged for downing very unhealthy number of cups of tea in a day. And also this was my first hack at surviving hunger pangs that came from withdrawal symptoms of not being able to call Pizza a mid-meal snack anymore. Adding in 2-3 almonds and half an apricot with one cup of black tea is how I sit through pretty much all my meetings at work(plus points for having the best co-workers, they keep me in tow for when I begin to stray too far)
4. Makhanas/Fox Nuts: While plain makhanas also taste great, I cook a large bowl of these in 1 tbsp. of oil and any mix of spices I like at that point. Sometimes I add some curry leaves also and these spiced makhanas are super yum. There is a packet version available here in Delhi. However, please be careful with the quantity. I always have a boxful of this at my work desk and I grab about 4 -5 pieces and don’t bolus for it. You might want to bolus for it depending upon how much you are consuming
5. Sautéed broccoli or French beans- Okay, let me say, this is probably the only thing that I have been eating since my pre diabetic days. This is the quickest and low-carb food for me.
I am also not going to pretend that I do this all the time (last two months have been a struggle), but knowing that there is a way around the carb-filled hunger pangs helps !