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.
The key to long-term success with diabetes is education. Increasing your nutrition knowledge and understanding the impact individual foods have on blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to manage diabetes and prevent complications. This is one of the main reasons why I love to recommend Yumbox lunchboxes to my clients with diabetes. Not only are these lunchboxes compartmentalized, but they go one step further. They offer food trays with 4 or 6 compartments that 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 lunch boxes 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!
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Yumbox. All opinions are my own.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! With my name being Erin there’s no way I couldn’t share with you a fun recipe to celebrate the day. So here you go- my latest creation: Shamrock Spinach Pancakes
These little guys are so fun to make and only have 50 calories and 2 grams of carbohydrate per serving. The recipe and step-by-step instructions are all in my latest YouTube video above. I’d love your thoughts on my new ‘Erin’s Healthy Bites’ recipe series. Let me know what recipes you would like to see created and I will get working on them for you.
Happy Pi Day – or as I like to say ‘Happy Pi(e) Day’ because eating pie is so much more fun than just calculating Pi! Pie, however, like I am sure you know isn’t exactly a ‘health food.’ Many times pie can be packed full of unhealthy nutrients like added sugars, saturated fats, and the most scary fat of all- trans fats! So what’s a pie (or Pi) lover to do? Make your own pie of course! And before you start panicking, just know that this slimmed down version is an easy, anyone can make it, no fail recipe that’s packed full of good-for-you ingredients. So why not whip up this Mixed Berry Swirl Custard Pie and celebrate Pi(e) Day with a dessert you can feel good about!
Mixed Berry Custard Pie
- 1 (9-inch) refrigerated piecrust (make sure you choose a trans fat free option by avoiding pie crust with ‘partially hydrogenated oil’ listed in the ingredients and then follow directions on wrapping)
- ½ cup frozen mixed berries
- Lite Whipped Cream
For the custard:
- 1 1/2 cups milk, 2% or higher
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Bake piecrust for 10-12 minutes, or until brown. Take out of oven and let cool completely.
- In a saucepan, combine milk, sugar, cornstarch and egg. Whisk mixture until well combine then turn on medium heat. Continue to whisk until mixture comes to a boil and starts to thicken.
- Remove from heat. Add vanilla extract, cinnamon and butter. Mix well.
- Stir in mixed berries.
- Pour custard into cooled piecrust and spread evenly. Place plastic wrap over pie and chill for 2-3 hours or until firm.
- Once firm, top with Lite Cool Whip and extra berries. Cut in 8 slices and serve cold. Enjoy!
Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
212 calories, 29 g CHO, 9 g Fat, 3 g PRO, 168 mg sodium, 12 g sugar
I love having a protein rich, egg breakfast in the morning. But, to be honest, sometimes eggs by themselves get a bit boring. So this morning I decided to mix things up a bit and combine two of my favorite meals – an omelet and a quesadilla – to create a breakfast hybrid that packed in a ton of flavor, protein, and fiber to start my day off right.
The best part about this quesadilla is that almost every member of your family will love it and you can feel good about serving it to them as well! In this version, I chose to flavor the breakfast quesadilla with a variety of fresh peppers, but you can vary the vegetables to include everything from onions, to mushrooms, broccoli, or any vegetable that appeals to your early morning taste buds.
Another bonus of this great breakfast- you can make it in advance! Whip up a few batches, slice them, and then refrigerate or freeze for an on-the-go breakfast that fuels you for whatever the day brings! (And there’s no reason that this meal has to be a breakfast only option either- it can make a fast dinner for those hectic nights as well!)
Cheesy Flatout Breakfast Quesadilla
½ cup shredded part-skim Mexican cheese
4 – Flatout ProteinUp CarbDown flatbreads
1 small red pepper, diced
1 small yellow pepper, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a skillet over medium heat, scramble eggs until cooked throughout. Remove from heat.
- Lay two Flatout flatbreads on a large baking sheet. Top evenly with diced peppers and scrambled eggs. Sprinkle cheese evenly over top and cover with the remaining flatbreads.
- Toast in oven for 5-7 minutes until flatbreads become slightly browned and crispy and cheese has fully melted.
- Slice evenly into triangles and serve warm.
- Optional: serve with a side of salsa and sour cream.
Makes 4 servings
Nutrition Facts per Serving:
Calories 195 Carbohydrates: 14gm Fiber: 6gm Protein: 16gm Fat: 8gm Saturated Fat: 3gm