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From California, US:

I'm having a difficult time really sticking with a diet to keep my diabetes under control. Do you have any advice?

With the torrent of advertising for yummy food products, and the inevitable "coffee breaks" at the job, it's amazing that anybody can stick to any meal plan! It's really impossible to stay on a meal plan 100% of the time, and we're always looking for hints to make it a bit easier.

Our advice:

  • First of all, talk to a knowledgeable diabetes dietitian, and make sure you let him/her know what's eating at you.
  • Use the results of your blood sugar testing to help figure out which foods raise your blood sugar a bunch.
  • Consider swapping meal plans to the newer version of meal planning, the "carb counting" method.
  • Don't enter a grocery store unless you've got a shopping list.
  • Make a list of low-calorie munchies that you love, and take it with you everywhere. When snacking, don't eat anything that's not on the list.
  • There are three tricky foods:
    1. Pizza (frequently raises blood sugar more than you'd expect from the ingredients);
    2. sugar-free yogurt and sugar-free pies (although the manufacturers don't use sugar, they sure do have calories in these products), and
    3. "diet" soda pop that really isn't (when you order "diet soda pop" it's just possible that the server will give you a sugar-containing beverage instead; our advice: don't order "diet soda pop" when eating out; order water (it's cheaper) or another beverage such as lemonade, coffee, or tea, that you can identify from the taste as being sugar-free. In a small non-scientific study using TesTape, an old urine sugar testing product, it's been estimated that about 20% of the "diet soda pop" beverages will contain something that turns the test strip green (presumably sugar!).

There're lots of other hints, and if anyone wants to suggest a few more to add, we'll ask them to forward them to us at, and we'll add them to this list as a postscript.

PS: Other hints to help with meal planning:

From Ohio:
  • Be sure that the parents of your child's friends know what foods are acceptable for snacks and what aren't. If you need to, buy some of your preferred snacks and give them to the other parents for when you child is over at their house.
  • Regular chocolate or vanilla ice cream is an excellent bedtime snack for kids. Ice cream is mostly fat, not sugar. Limit the serving to about one scoop, and no Rocky Road! Kids that attend summer camp will likely find ice cream a common nighttime snack.

Original posting 24 Mar 96


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