The Importance Of Portion Control In Diabetes
- Portion control is crucial in managing blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity in diabetes.
- Beyond diabetes management, portion control also improves heart health and increases energy levels.
- Portion control helps with weight management by reducing caloric intake and improving insulin sensitivity.
- Consistent portion sizes lead to better blood sugar control throughout the day.
- Practical tips for portion control include using visual cues, smaller plates, reading food labels, and following the Plate Method.
If you are living with diabetes, does it sometimes feel like your blood sugar levels are on a rollercoaster ride? Many people with diabetes are frustrated about trying to manage their condition or keep their weight under control while experiencing unpredictable spikes and crashes.
But here's the good news: portion control can help you bring stability and balance back into your life. By mastering your portions, you can regain control over your blood sugar levels and finally break free from the frustration of dealing with this chronic condition.
In this article, we will understand how portion control affects your body's response to food, how it benefits your long-term metabolism, and a few tips to use it effectively in your daily life when eating foods that lower blood sugar.
Unveiling the Power of Portion Control
Research shows that people eat more from larger than smaller food portions. So, if you pile your plate up with food in a buffet or order large dishes, you tend to eat more during that meal. Therefore, large portion sizes are known to contribute to obesity, making it challenging for people with diabetes to control their sugar intake, even if they consume the best foods to control diabetes.
On the flip side, studies also showed that when people are served a smaller portion, they tend to consume a smaller amount of food during that meal, and this habit stays consistent even in the future. With long-term habit-forming effects, portion control becomes essential when managing diabetes.
Now, let's understand how portion control helps you deal with chronic health conditions like type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes or obesity while also being an excellent hack for people who want to add healthy eating habits to their routine.
Breaking down the basics: What's the difference between portions and servings?
They may sound interchangeable, but portions and servings are entirely different measurements of food quantity.
The amount of food you place on your plate when eating at home or a restaurant, or even as you eat directly from a packet, is called a portion. On the other hand, a serving is an exact amount of food, usually given as a measure or unit, found listed on a product label or a food label.
Since a portion can differ for everyone, here's how to know when to use the two terms when planning your diet. Portion size is the quantity of food you want to eat — which may be more or less than a serving. For example, the food label on a bag of cereal may recommend half a cup per serving. But if you eat three-fourths of a cup for your breakfast daily, that is your portion size.
What are the advantages of portion control?
Here we will examine how portion control affects the way your body breaks down and metabolises sugar, leading to better overall health.
1. Managing Carbohydrate Intake
Carbohydrates significantly impact blood sugar levels as they are broken down into glucose during digestion. By practising portion control, you can control the number of carbohydrates consumed in a meal or snack. This, in turn, helps prevent sudden spikes or crashes in blood sugar levels.
2. Balancing Insulin Production
Insulin is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. The body either doesn't produce enough insulin in Type 1 diabetes or doesn't use it effectively in Type 2 diabetes.
Portion control helps strike a balance between carbohydrate intake and insulin production. By consuming just the right portions, you can avoid overloading your system with excessive carbohydrates that the body struggles to process effectively.
3. Consistency in Blood Sugar Control
Consistency is key in diabetes management. Predicting and managing blood sugar levels becomes easier when portion sizes are consistent in every meal while sticking to foods that lower blood sugar. You can then develop a routine and maintain stable glucose control throughout the day.
4. Weight Management
Portion control helps individuals achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Excess body weight contributes to insulin resistance, making the body's cells less responsive to insulin.
5. Reduced Caloric Intake
Portion control often leads to a reduction in overall caloric intake. When you consume fewer calories, your body's energy needs are better matched, improving insulin sensitivity.
6. Lowering Inflammation
Overeating and consuming large portions of high-calorie foods can lead to inflammation in the body. Inflammation has been linked to insulin resistance. However, practising portion control and choosing nutrient-dense, balanced meals can reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity.
7. Improved Heart Health
By managing portion sizes, you can reduce the intake of unhealthy fats, sodium, and cholesterol commonly found in more significant portions and processed foods. Additionally, choosing smaller, balanced amounts increases the emphasis on nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. This dietary shift can help lower the risk of heart disease and hypertension.
8. Increased Energy Levels
Consuming large portions can often leave you feeling lethargic and sluggish due to the body's effort to digest excessive food. With portion control, you can provide your body with the right amount of fuel without overwhelming it.
Tips for effective portion control
1. Use visual cues to estimate portion sizes
Measuring your portions with cups and spoons can help you keep your portions consistent from one meal to the next. For example, you could stick to having one cup of rice in every meal, whether at home or a dinner party. Another helpful way to visualise portions is by using everyday objects. For example, a portion of meat should be approximately the size of your hand, or a half cup of cooked pasta is roughly the size of a tennis ball.
2. Use smaller plates
Using smaller dinnerware like plates and bowls has a psychological effect because it gives you the illusion that you're eating more than you are. Filling up the smaller plate makes you feel more satisfied with smaller quantities of food.
3. Ask for a take-out container before you begin eating at a restaurant
Remember, finishing the food on your plate is not always necessary. Instead, be proactive and request a take-out container to remove excess food before starting your meal. This strategy helps prevent the temptation to overeat due to large restaurant servings without wasting food.
4. Read food labels carefully to understand the serving size
Compare the serving size mentioned on the label with the amount of that food you typically consume to make informed portion choices.
5. Use the Plate Method
The Plate Method is a straightforward approach to portion control. This visual strategy helps ensure adequate intake of non-starchy vegetables and lean protein while moderating the consumption of higher-carb foods that can significantly impact blood sugar levels.
Here's how to apply the Plate Method using a 9-inch dinner plate.
- Allocate half of the plate to non-starchy vegetables, including salad, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots.
- Reserve one-quarter of the plate for a lean protein source, such as chicken, beans, tofu, or eggs.
- Dedicate the remaining quarter of the plate to carb foods. Higher-carb foods include grains, starchy vegetables like potatoes and peas, rice or pasta.
Lastly, select a beverage to accompany your meal, opting for water or a low-calorie option.
By incorporating these practical tips into your daily routine, you can develop healthier eating habits and master the art of portion control, leading to improved diabetes management and overall well-being. However, remember to take it slow when you change your dietary habits and eat food that reduces blood sugar levels.
Don't try to change your eating habits all at once. Instead, start by making small changes and be patient and consistent with your efforts. It takes time to make lasting changes. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day!
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