Managing diabetes can be complicated and maybe even overwhelming for some. In our last diabetes-related post we mentioned 25 important facts about the disease. This time let’s talk about seven ways that you can better manage diabetes using MyFitnessPal.
1. Set your macronutrient goals. One great feature of MyFitnessPal is being able to customize your individual nutrient goals. The American Diabetes Association recommends diabetics get around 45% of their calories from carbohydrate, which is slightly less than the MyFitnessPal guided goals that are automatically calculated when you sign up. Once you check in with a medical professional and determine what percentage of calories from carbohydrates you should be eating, check out this post to learn how to set your personal macronutrient goals. You can then use our Reports feature to see just how your daily intake aligns with your adjusted goals.
2. Track carbs at each meal. Those with diabetes are encouraged to take in a consistent amount of carbs at each meal throughout the day to avoid spikes and falls in blood sugar. An easy way to track carbohydrate intake throughout the day is by looking at the distribution of carbs from foods logged at each meal. If you’re trying to control your blood sugar, aim for 3 balanced meals and 2 small snacks that fall within the following carbohydrate ranges:
- Women: 30-45 grams carbs per meal (3 times per day)
- Men: 45-60 grams of carbohydrate at each meal
- Snacks: 15-30 grams carbs
Now that you know roughly how many carbs you should be eating at each meal and snack, you need to start tracking them! If you’re under at a particular meal, eat something small that can bump you up to your goal. If you’re over, look at the distribution of carbs in the foods you just ate and eat less of the high carbohydrate foods next time.
3. Track blood sugar. Another great feature within MyFitnessPal is the ability to track just about anything you want, including your daily blood sugar levels. Check out this blog post to learn how to do this. The app will even generate a graph of your blood sugar over time, which can be useful for you and your doctor or dietitian to look at if maintaing fairly consistent blood sugar is a challenge.
4. Track water intake. Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water actually helps dilute the blood, which lowers blood glucose. Along with carbs and blood sugar, you can track the amount of water you drink each day directly within the app or on the web. To do this, simply hit Add to Diary and then select Water to log the amount.
5. Get moving and log physical activity. Exercising helps move glucose into the cells to be used for energy, and any exercise helps lower blood glucose for 24-48 hours afterward. MyFitnessPal makes tracking exercise easy. Use it by itself or connect one of our partner’s physical activity trackers to have your exercises synced directly into the app. Again, by looking at those reports, individuals who increase physical activity – even by only a few minutes per day – can still see the benefits it has to their blood glucose and overall health.
6. Note the timing of your meals. With diabetes, timing of meals is very important. After the first meal of the day, we want individuals to eat at least every 4-5 hours. It’s important not to go longer than 10 hours without eating from the last meal or snack of the day to the first meal the next morning. This can actually help lower fasting blood glucose by preventing the liver from releasing extra blood sugar. Make sure to write the timing of meals in the “today’s food notes” section.
7. Look at the log and make adjustments. If blood sugar is consistently high or carbohydrate intake is either too low or too great, look back into your log. If you log diligently, a Registered Dietitian can even help you pinpoint problem foods and find patterns in your eating behaviors that can be addressed to help you better meet your goals.
As always, double check food packages when possible to ensure the nutrition information you’re logging is accurate, and check in with your doctor or Registered Dietitian before making changes to your diet.
I just want to thank my colleague Lori Zanini, a fellow Registered Dietitian who is also a Certified Diabetes Educator for providing a couple of the tips! If you found this post helpful, feel free to share it with friends and/or family members who may benefit from reading it too.
Do you have any experience with managing diabetes? Tell us about it in the comments section below or on Facebook.