If you have type 2 diabetes, you’ve probably been advised by your healthcare team to incorporate healthier foods into your diet. In addition, you may have visited with a dietitian and mapped out a personalized meal plan to help you reach weight-loss or glucose-control goals. Nonetheless, what happens when, despite your best efforts, you still crave a food that’s not so healthy? For people with diabetes, this can be a serious problem.
Know the difference between hunger and appetite. Hunger is more physiological, whereas appetite is more psychological. It may take some time to distinguish one from the other, but eventually, it can be done. So the next time you experience a "craving," remember to ask yourself whether it is hunger talking, or your brain only imagining it needs food. Also, it is important to check your blood glucose (sugar) when you experience these feelings to make sure they’re not too low.
Know your "emotional triggers." Many people use food as a source of comfort, which can lead to the consumption of excess calories. Unfortunately, eating for comfort doesn’t really solve the problems that cause us to eat in the first place. If stress causes you to eat, try channeling that energy elsewhere—such as going for a walk, calling a friend, or participating in any other activity you enjoy.
Know when to give in. Yes, you read that statement correctly. Denying the favorite foods that you truly crave can potentially lead to a dangerous binge. This is especially true when you’ve tried all other measures, and still feel the need to indulge. Indulge with reservation, however, and only eat a small portion of what you crave. Keep in mind that satisfying a craving and binging on a particular food is not the same thing.
Important note: People with diabetes should also check their blood sugar frequently in order to differentiate between low glucose and a craving. Be sure to always carry your glucose meter with you and test when your cravings occur.