Protein and food labels help diabetics manage blood glucose

I said in my previous post that my mom’s referral to the dietitian was probably the most important one we received because it’s helped me manage her diabetes just as much as the medications she takes.

With all the low-carb diet books and articles out nowadays, today’s twenty-something may know that too many carbohydrates aren’t good for you.  But when my elderly mother was growing up, eating carbs was a good thing.  I believed the same thing for more than a third of my life. But too many carbs is a bad thing for diabetics, especially if they contain no dietary fiber. As her dietitian informed us, carbs break down very quickly as sugar in the bloodstream and cause energy spikes and lulls. So when my mom overindulged, her blood sugar would spike and she’d complain about not feeling well.  Often times it meant she’d get dizzy, overheated or made frequent trips to the bathroom.

The dietician recommended five to six small meals a day rather than three big meals to control the amount of carbohydrates my mother ate. That meant trying to restrict her breakfasts and dinners to foods with portion sizes that contain around 60 grams of carbohydrates.  For lunch it was 30 grams and snacks about 15 grams of carbs.  So food labels were now on my list of required reading.  And I learned that carbohydrates with no dietary fiber turned into sugar faster than carbohydrates with dietary fiber.

I’ve read the labels and tried portion sizes, but let’s face it, the routine can be difficult to stick to, especially when you’re joggling the responsibilities that go with work and family activities. And then there are the hostile looks that come when you tell your mother “you shouldn’t have that.”  So I do simple things like using Splenda in her coffee, lemonade and homemade desserts.  And to keep mom’s blood sugar from spiking when she wants a biscuit or something sweet, I give her some protein, such as deli meat or egg whites before or along with any high carb foods to help slow the rush of sugar into her system.

Another added benefit of eating protein with a meal is that it builds muscle and keeps her from getting hungry quickly, which can cut back on her desire to eat the candy she has stashed away.

If this information was helpful, feel free to share your thoughts.  If you want to know more about how I manage carbohydrates in my mom’s diet, email me.

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I'm a working wife and mom who takes care of an aging parent. Only I began doing it full-time, in my home, when I was in my mid-thirties, single and about to make a career change. Thirteen years later, mom is still living with me and I expect it to be that way until one of us leaves this earth. It hasn't always been easy managing her care. (I've helped my mother recover from surgery, and a major injury that required a nursing home stay, as well as the death of my younger brother after a long illness.) But caring for her has been worth it because I know that my assistance means she enjoys a better quality of life as she ages. I hope the experiences and information that I share will help you manage,with grace, the changes that take place in your life as you assume the responsibility of being your parent's caregiver. If you have a question you think I can answer, please contact me at

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