I was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes at age 9, and began learning about all the ways food affects my health. I became so interested in this topic that I made a career out of it! I was particularly inspired by the registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) I met as part of my care team and eventually I became one too. Now I teach others about the benefits of delicious food.

One of my favorite food groups is the dairy group—their mixture of carbohydrates and protein helps me regulate my blood sugar. One cup of unflavored milk (whole, skim, or 2%) has 12 grams of carbohydrates and 8 grams of protein, which help stabilize my blood sugar. Because protein is broken down more slowly than other macronutrients during digestion, dairy products give me sustained energy to get through my day.

A quick and delicious breakfast I often choose is low-fat cottage cheese with salsa, chopped cilantro, and a sprinkle of shredded Cheddar cheese. This creamy and spicy meal is delicious and nutritious, plus it keeps me satisfied and energized until lunch!

I also love dairy as a snack food. Sometimes, I need a lower-carbohydrate snack, and cubed cheese is one of my favorites! One ounce (28 grams) of Cheddar provides 1 gram of carbohydrate and 6.5 grams of protein, so I know it’s a snack that will keep me satisfied. I often pair few cubes of cheese with some unsalted almonds for a low-carb, savory snack in the afternoon. It’s creamy, sharp, and crunchy in all the best ways.

Dairy is also a great option when I need a bit more energy and want something sweet. Whether I’m planning a walk in the park with friends or an impromptu dance party in the kitchen with my daughter, I often choose chocolate milk as my pre-workout snack. The protein allows me to have sustained energy, while the added chocolate is a sweet way to keep my blood sugar levels in range during exercise.

I often choose dairy as a bedtime snack, as well. I need my blood sugar to stay in range while I’m sleeping, and if I’ve had a particularly active day, dairy foods give me the sustained energy I need overnight. One of my favorite snacks is plain, non-fat Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of cinnamon and some fresh fruit (I love chopped apples or blueberries on my yogurt). One cup of plain Greek yogurt has about 7 grams of carbohydrate and 17 grams of protein, so it’s a sweet and satisfying bedtime snack.

Overall, dairy foods help me manage my blood sugar, and they are also a good source of calcium to help build strong bones. It’s an easily accessible food group with benefits for my whole family. We aim for the recommended three servings of dairy per day, and we enjoy it! How do you add dairy into your meals and snacks? For some great ideas, check out www.savorrecipes.com for inspiration.