If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with diabetes, you may feel overwhelmed when it comes to meal planning. From the moment you learned of your diagnosis, friends, family members, and even healthcare professionals have probably been telling you what foods to avoid. But with all those restrictions in place, you may be left wondering what, if anything, you can actually eat. Well, as a diabetes educator and registered dietitian that has been working with individuals in this same situation for over a decade, I have a secret to share with you. You can actually eat anything with diabetes! That’s right- there’s really no such thing as ‘off-limit’ foods. You just have to know how to eat them!
There’s a secret weapon I use for meal planning that almost instantly insures blood sugar will stay balanced after a meal. What is it? A bento box! A compartmentalized lunch box, such as a Yumbox lunchbox, makes the ideal tool when it managing carbohydrate servings, overall portions, and balance. Research has found that when individuals were educated on the portion size for various foods over the course of a few weeks, these same individuals were more likely to be able to successfully replicate correct portions on their own than those who did not receive any guidance. A bento box serves as a portion control tool, allowing you to visually see the appropriate serving size of each food you add into your lunchbox. When you see these servings size repeatedly over time you become quite familiar with what is and is not an appropriate serving size. This skill then translates into improved portion control at all meals, whether you are eating out in a restaurant or at the office from your lunchbox, which can help you to stay within your daily calorie goals promoting a healthy body weight.
A bento box not only helps you to better understand portion control, but it also is a great tool to help promote a balanced meal. With diabetes, having too many carbohydrates at one sitting can lead to unhealthy increases in blood sugar levels. With a standard food contain that is not compartmentalized, it’s easy to pack a few cups of leftover pasta for lunch without much thought. However, having this much pasta at one sitting is a surefire way to spike your blood sugar. Instead, a bento box, with it’s varying compartments, allows you to fill one portion-controlled slot with pasta, leaving room to add in lean protein and non-starchy vegetables in the remaining slots. This balance helps you to consume a satisfying meal without exceeding your per-meal carbohydrate goals.
Not only are these lunchboxes compartmentalized, but they go one step further. They include fun graphics and texts, instructing you on how to fill each compartment, helping to promote a balanced meal that is not excessive in carbohydrates. There’s even a small slot for ‘treats,’ which is the perfect way to incorporate those ‘off-limits’ foods in small portions to satisfy cravings without sacrificing your health. These lunchboxes make fun learning tools for the whole family. For children with diabetes, they can gain independence in selecting their own meal choices while adults will enjoy the visual reminder to incorporate a variety of food groups into each meal.
If you are looking for a simple and fun way to effectively manage blood sugar levels and body weight, a bento box is a must-have essential. Learn to eat what you love without the guilt while still meeting your blood sugar goals – it’s as easy as packing your lunchbox!
Contributed by Erin Palinski-Wade, Nutritionist, Speaker, Author