Welcome to my very first nutrition blog post at Glooko!
I’m Bridget Wood, RD, LD, CDCES, and I’ll be your navigator through this world of nutrition. I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist, partner associate at Glooko and person living with type 1 diabetes for 13 years now.
Whether you’re a person living with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, type 3 diabetes, gestational diabetes, a person caring for someone with diabetes, or anything in between—I truly hope these posts help you along your journey (or at the very least make you smile!).
Now for the real reason you’re here…healthy summer eating tips! As the temps rise and the sun starts to shine, there’s a few things that can help make sure that you are having your “fun in the sun!”
HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE
I know we’re all tired of hearing this one. For some people, water intake can be mundane and as a result, they don’t get as much as they should. You can reach for the classic bottle of H2O or heat things up a bit by making a spa inspired water. Generally, a spa inspired water would include a fruit and/or herb of your choice and you guessed it: H2O. The fruit and herb combo helps to add a subtle flavor that takes the water up a notch, but also helps keep your thirst quenched throughout these warmer months.
Hydration is essential for EVERYONE, but is especially key for all people living with diabetes as it helps to promote stable blood sugar levels (Not so fun fact: dehydration may cause higher blood glucose levels) and can also impact the accuracy of your continuous glucose monitor (if you wear one).
The combinations for the waters are endless! Examples of some great combinations can be watermelon mint, pineapple and strawberry, or if you’re more carb conscious, try using strawberry lemon or cucumber mint as a great starting point.
Pro tip: Muddle raspberries and a few fresh mint leaves with a zero calorie seltzer in a glass to have a refreshing summer mocktail (not to mention it’s blood sugar-friendly!).
PICKING THE PERFECT PLATE
Do you know why a balanced plate is helpful? For some people living with diabetes, the heat can impact their blood sugars and make them either increase or decrease. Partially the increased heat is to blame, but also for some people the warmer months equal an increase in movement, which can increase insulin sensitivity. Basically, your insulin (whether you’re injecting it or your body is producing it) can become more “activated” and can work more efficiently. For some people, this can mean a decrease in overall blood glucose levels. For others, the heat can cause higher blood sugar levels than normal due to dehydration.
While few things can help balance blood sugars, one of the best ways to start is by picking a perfect plate with protein, carbohydrates, fiber and healthy fat. The addition of the protein, fiber, and healthy fats help to keep your blood sugars stabilized by slowing down digestion, which can also help keep you fueled for a longer period of time.
Pro tip: Plant-based proteins (such as beans, peas, seeds, etc) can count as your protein, carb and fiber. Check out a recipe at the bottom of this post to see what I mean!
AN APPLE A DAY, KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY! (WELL SORT OF)
This one is so big I felt it needed TWO sections! Summer is an exciting time for food (I could be biased, Ha!). In all seriousness, summer can be a great time to experiment with different cooking methods for vegetables and fruit alike. It’s a great time to try and eat the rainbow (aka have a colorful plate). The more colors you have, the more variety of vitamins you are able to obtain as the different colors have different nutrients.
For myself, I like to take the opportunity to get out of the kitchen and use the grill or smoker to help me keep my veggie (and fruit) intake up. I also like to use things like salads, smoothies and smoothie bowls, as a quick way to increase intake while en route to a hike or a visit to the lake.
As a registered dietitian nutritionist, some of the biggest things clients would mention about salads were that they were either boring or flavorless. As a registered dietitian nutritionist and self proclaimed foodie, I’m here to tell you that’s not true!
While lettuce can be a great starting point, it’s not the ONLY key ingredient in creating a satisfying salad. Try balancing your salad with things like healthy fats and proteins to help keep you satiated and keep it exciting!
Summer is a perfect time to experiment with salads by trying different combinations of produce such as beets, berries, avocado, tomato, melon, summer squashes and cucumbers. Seasonal vegetables and fruits are also often cheaper and have lots of flavor. By adding these to your salad base, you’re maximizing the vitamins and nutrients you’re getting from an otherwise boring plate of greens. Add proteins such as grilled chicken or fish, some fat such as feta or goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, avocado (yes-a healthy fat too!) and a vinaigrette-based dressing for a blood sugar-friendly and satisfying dish.
One of my favorite blood sugar-friendly summer salads consists of grilled chicken, strawberries, blueberries, avocado, pecans, feta cheese, spinach and a balsamic vinaigrette (seriously the BEST flavor combo).
My favorite way to get a balanced meal and cool down is to throw everything in a blender and GO! Similar to salads and plates, you can combine proteins, carbohydrates, fiber and healthy fat together to make one blood sugar-friendly quick meal. Trade the fruit juice for an unsweetened plant based milk or coconut water to keep the added sugars low. Healthy fats like nut butters, chia seeds, or flax seeds can help to keep you full, while adding vegetables like frozen cauliflower or kale can add fiber to the smoothie to help keep blood glucose levels stable (without sacrificing flavor).
Whichever option you choose (or all of the above), I hope you enjoy!
Don’t forget to use the food tracker in the Glooko mobile app to monitor what food you’re consuming. It’s a handy way to see how healthy eating affects your glucose levels and overall health. It also has a very cool voice recognition feature, so you can just speak your food into it to track, which I love.
Be sure to tag @Glooko or myself (@BalancedWithBridgetWood) on Instagram, and use the hashtags, #BetterTogether and #BalancedWithBridgetWood, in all your creations when you post them to social media. We’d love to see what you come up with!
Until next time,
Your friendly neighborhood dietitian
Download a Recipe for Easy-to-Make Buffalo Chickpea Tacos (PDF)