Thursday, December 8, 2016

10 Tips to Help You Maintain Your Diabetes Meal Plan

Following your diabetes meal plan is one of the most difficult diabetes self-management skills that you have to learn, live with and stay with. Knowing what you should eat does not mean that you will eat that way. Getting an A in your diabetes diet class does not insure that you will follow an eating schedule or that you will achieve and maintain your ideal weight.

To do this, you need to be motivated. What is motivation? It is a concept that can be hard to grasp. Most people know when they are motivated, and most can recognize when motivation is absent. When you are motivated, you are stimulated to take action, you feel energized, you have incentive and drive and you feel inspired. Most people have moments in their lives when they are more motivated than others.


Like any other emotion, motivation is not static because it comes and goes. When you have the feeling of motivation, you believe that it will last forever. Unfortunately, motivation is not permanent. When you lose this feeling, you question how you will be able to regain it. Here are some tips that can help you feel more motivated to stick with your diabetes meal plan.


1 Practice Food As Medicine. This may sound complicated, but food is as important in living with diabetes as the medication you take. Medication, alone, cannot help you maintain good diabetes control. The effect of medication is dependent on the time you eat and the type and quantity of food you eat. To see how this statement applies to you, try this experiment.


Take your medication without paying attention to your meal plan for one week. Measure your blood glucose levels regularly and record the results in your diary. Then, for one week, follow your prescribed meal plan and medication schedule, and record your blood glucose measurement at the same times as you did the week before. Then compare your diary records of blood glucose measurements for each of the two weeks. You’ll see just how important your meal plan is when you look at your blood glucose records. When you do this, you may never need any other thing to motivate you to stay with your meal plan again!!


2 Look Within Yourself. Get in touch with your most personal, compelling thoughts about why you want to succeed with your diabetes meal plan. It may be that you want to become more physically attractive to your friends or family. It may also be that you want to respond to family/friends who may be concerned about your need to take better care of yourself. You may even have some self-satisfying needs such as a desire to feel more successful and more in control of your life. Whatever the reason, learn what you really want from your life, and then convert these feelings into action by staying with your meal plan.


3 Imagine the Results. If weight loss is your goal, you need to be realistic and recognize that the effort will take time and a lot of energy. It takes longer to lose weight than it does to gain it.


Your extra weight is the end product of years upon years of unhealthy eating behavior. You will have to recognize that behavior, change it, and then slowly and gradually lose those unwanted pounds. However, you can use your imagination to picture yourself without the extra weight. The best mental imagery you can apply is to think of yourself as a sculptor who is creating a piece of beautiful art. Remember, the gradual chiseling away of extra fat will be slow, but it also may be permanent.


4 Self-Monitor. You can see how food affects your blood glucose levels when you self-monitor these levels before and after eating. You need to record these levels so that you can measure your success in maintaining good control. You can also benefit from recording and monitoring everything you eat. You can keep track of your daily calorie intake and you can learn from your own mistakes by comparing your food intake with your blood glucose measurements. Keeping a food diary can help you to think about your eating behaviors every day, and you can become your own dietitian by reminding yourself to follow the proper eating behaviors. You will become much more aware of your eating habits when you record everything, and this can stimulate you in your efforts to stay motivated to follow your meal plan.


5 Practice the Domino Effect. A chain reaction often can occur as one positive change leads to another. For example, both exercise and blood glucose self-monitoring can have a domino effect on your efforts to stay with your meal plan. Exercise and reduced calorie intake work together to improve weight loss efforts. Self-monitoring gives you hard facts on what your efforts are doing to control your blood glucose.


6 Reward Yourself. When you achieve something, be good to yourself with a nonfood reward. Use such rewards on a regular or even a weekly basis. For instance, if your goal was to lose one or two pounds that week, give yourself a reward for doing this. If it was to exercise three or four times, and you did it, then give yourself a reward. Go to a movie, concert or sports event, or buy yourself a piece of clothing. Each week you should set new goals and motivate yourself by providing a special reward for a job well done.


7 Substitute. Don’t totally deny yourself a type of food that has been a favorite and is now on a “black list.” You don’t want to make yourself feel deprived by totally eliminating this kind of food. Instead, try to identify why your old favorite is now on the “black list.” Does it contain too much sugar, or too much fat or too much salt? After you have done this, seek out healthy substitutes for the black listed ingredients. You can find products that are “free” or “low” in sugar, fat, or salt on the supermarket shelves, and you can use recipes from your diabetes publications and cookbooks.


8 Practice Self-Talk. Keep telling yourself that you want to be successful, can be successful and that you will be successful. Be your own pep rally leader. It really is possible to control your own feelings and attitudes.


9 No Excuses. Practice finding a reason “to do” rather than an excuse “not to do.” Remember, if you don’t feel like following your meal plan, you will always find an excuse such as: “we are going out to eat…we are going on vacation…it’s my birthday…it’s my spouse’s birthday…it’s my kid’s birthday…it’s my Aunt Tilly’s birthday.” If you are going out or celebrating a birthday, try to focus on the occasion, the people, and the social aspects of the event rather than the food.


10 Get Support. You may benefit from the input of others in your efforts to motivate yourself to stay with your meal plan. Enlist the aid of your family members. Visit with your dietitian and your diabetes doctor/educator and discuss your plans, your problems and your progress. It’s also a good idea to join a support group whose members are in the same boat as you.


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