Author's Perspective: We all know that a good diet is one of the keys for reversing your diabetes. But, I didn't realize the importance of "meal planning" until my mother and daughter went back home and I had to fend for myself. :-)
Luckily for me, my mother had prepared a lot of meals and put them in my freezer in Tupperware containers.
In addition, my engineering managers and co-workers collected some money for me (while I was out on disability); and, they paid a local chef (Mary Lynn Vickers, known as the Phantom Chef) to come in and prepare a bunch of really tasty meals for me.
She did a great job by preparing various diabetic-friendly meals including soups, casseroles, omelets, baked wild salmon, etc. I never really cared much for wild salmon, but, she prepared it differently -- it was really moist and tasty like nothing I had ever tasted before!
Mary Lynn explained to me that most people tend to overcook the wild salmon, causing it to dry out and lose a lot of its Omega-3 health benefits. She even took the time to explain to me how to do bake the wild salmon myself instead of having to pay her to come back. That was really nice of her! She didn't have to do that! [THANK YOU, MARY LYNN!]
But, after a few months, I had run out of meals that the Phantom Chef and my mother had prepared. My mother had left some recipes, so I tried to prepare some meals for myself. But, the meals just didn't as good as my mother's.
Plus, I had to run back to the grocery store to pick up some ingredients -- this happened several times. And, a couple times, when I got off work and it was late, I just didn't feel like cooking something that late. This was very frustrating and time-consuming.
Because I was doing so much better with my diabetes, I was really tempted to just stop by one of my favorite fast food places, e.g. McDonald's, Pizza Hut or Kentucky Fried Chicken.
This is when I realized that I needed to get organized and learn how to do meal planning. So, I went online to find some meal planning recipes and tools. There were a lot of recipes, but they weren't really for diabetics. There were a lot of meal planning tools, but, they weren't designed for people with diabetes.
During the next few months, I put together my own grocery lists, meal planning charts and meal planning schedules, and used the meal recipes from my mother. I also took some online recipes that looked pretty good and modified them to be more diabetic-friendly.
In addition, a couple of nice ladies from the local churches prepared some meals for me, using the ingredients that I had specified.
At the time, I didn't realize that all of this would become the genesis for the creation of my diabetes cookbook! This is kind of funny, since before all of this started, I could barely boil a pot of water without burning it. :-)
The 10Benefits of Diabetes Meal Planning
I learned that meal planning provided a lot of benefits to me. Meal planning helped me to get better organized and prevented me from coming home late from work and not having anything to eat.
As a result, this kept me from being tempted to drive down the street to the local McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut or Kentucky Friend Chicken.
Over the next few months, I discovered that meal planning provide me other benefits that I didn't realize at the time.
Here are the 10+ benefits of diabetes meal planning that helped with my diabetes management; and, was key in me being able to reverse my diabetes:
Saves Time: When you plan your meals, you can efficiently shop for groceries using your list, and you only have to shop once a week. In addition, you won't forget a specific food and have to drive back to the grocery store.
Makes Grocery Shopping Easier: When you know what you're gong to buy, you're able to shop for groceries a lot more efficiently and, it's definitely, a lot easier!
Grocery Shopping More Efficient: When you make a habit of planning your meals, you can also get to shop for groceries more efficiently. This is because you will already have a list of the ingredients you need even before you go the supermarket or grocery.
Provides Safety: When you have to rush back to the grocery store, you can be distracted and have a car accident. This is an unintended benefit of proper meal planning.
Able to Eat Healthier: By planning three meals a day, seven days a week, you avoid take-out, fast food places and drive-thrus. You avoid eating a lot of frozen dinners and frozen pizzas, which are full of chemicals and "dead" foods.
Better Diabetes Management: Planning meals and eating healthier every day makes it easier to manage your diabetes, control your blood sugar, and set you up to be able to eventually reverse your diabetes.
Blood Glucose Tracking: This also makes blood glucose tracking easier, especially if you use a blood glucose/meal tracking chart or tool similar to the Death to Diabetes tool. As a result, it's easier to analyze your meals and determine what corrective actions to take. And, this makes it more likely that you will be able to reverse your diabetes.
Reduce Wasting Food: By planning, you avoid buying food that you already have at home, especially spices and condiments; and, food stored in the freezer that you forgot was in there! Meal planning also helps with taking advantage of leftovers, which will save time and money.
Reduce Stress: Meal planning helps you reduce stress because you're not worrying about what to have for dinner. You won't have to jump in the car and run to the grocery store and stand in long lines. Have you ever noticed that when you have to make a quick run to the store that you end up spending more time in the line than the time it took to pick up the one or two food items? :-)
Saves Money: If you have a plan and a grocery list, this eliminates impulse buying. You can take advantage of grocery store sales and coupons; and, avoid duplicate purchases. You also avoid the urge to order take-out.
Variety of Meals: Another good thing about planning meals is that it lets you enjoy variety. Instead of eating the same dish five times a week, you can plan your menu so that you are always enjoying something new. This increases your chances of sticking with your diabetes program because you don't get bored eating the same meals all the time.
Bonus Benefit: Because of my experience with meal planning, I was able to develop some diabetic meal planning tools and a diabetes cookbook, which I would never have dreamed possible if it weren't for my own personal struggles!
Acknowledgements: Of course, I have to give credit to my mother, my daughter, my co-workers, the church ladies, and the Phantom Chef for their guidance and inspiration.
Meal Planning Tips to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes
Here are some meal planning ideas that will make it easier for you to plan healthy meals during the week.
Create a grocery shopping list by review your recipes. Keep a generic list that includes things you buy frequently (such as spinach, eggs, milk, chicken breasts), then add extras so you don’t have to start from scratch each week.
Check your refrigerator and pantry, maintain an inventory in a spreadsheet or on your phone.
Send your grocery list to family members for their ideas.
Choose a shopping day, but avoid weekends and evenings if you want to avoid the crowds.
Shop strategically, that is shop on days that work best for you. Consider your store’s schedule by asking the store manager when there are sales and when they receive fresh produce.
Don't over-stuff the refrigerator. Foods get hidden in the back, and go bad. Cook perishables first, so that you don't waste the food and money.
Make sure that you have a freezer. A freezer allows you to buy food on sale and store it for future meals. Make a double batch of recipes e.g. soups, casseroles) and freeze extras (in individual portions for easier defrosting). This is great when you don’t have time to prepare a meal because of an unplanned event.
Make sure that you have a cast iron skillet so that you don't have to use a lot of oil when cooking an omelet or stir-fry.
Make sure that you have a good blender and/or juicer so that you can make smoothies and raw juices.
Get a (real*) diabetes cookbook or look online for diabetic-friendly healthy recipes.
*Most diabetes cookbooks are not diabetic-friendly and don't address the disease! They tend to focus on calories and carb-counting to try to control your blood sugar, but, they don't address inflammation, oxidation, glycation, etc.
Note: For examples of diabetic-friendly meals that will help you reverse your diabetes, refer to the Diabetes Meal Samples web page.
Benefits of DTD Meal Planning Tools
Death to Diabetes meal planning helps you in the following areas:
- How to navigate around a grocery store
- How to read food labels
- How to select the proper foods
- When to shop for groceries and why
- How to save time and money when grocery-shopping
Death to Diabetes meal planning and menus also address meal preparation because it's very important that you know how to prepare the meals such that you obtain maximum nutrition from the meals.
For example, if you overcook the vegetables, then, you destroy many of the key nutrients that your body needs to fight the diabetes.
Another example, if you don't add fat to the steamed vegetables, then, your body won't absorb the fat soluble vitamins and other phytonutrients from the vegetables, e.g. Vitamin D, carotenoids.
If you need help and guidance with your meal planning, here are some books and tools that will help you:
- Death to Diabetes Cookbook
- Death to Diabetes 90-Day Meal Planner
- 90-Day Meal Planning Charts
- 90-Day Meal Planner Schedule & Template
- 90-Day Boot Camp Meal Planner
- Grocery-Shopping & Meal Planning
- Meal Plan for a Typical Day
- 1-Day Meal Planning Guide
- Meal Planning Tool Kit
- How to Design a Meal, Salad & Smoothie
- Meal Planning Guide
- Super Meal Model Meal Plate Diagram
- Favorite Foods Alternative Healthier Foods Chart
- Meal Plan Chart (7-day)
- Meal Plan Charts (30-day)
- Meal Plan Charts (90-day)
Disclaimer: This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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