Along with avoiding sugar, diabetics must be watchful of their carb intake, as well. Carbs are the enemy of blood sugar! Or are they?
Did you know that there is such a thing as a good carb? That a carb, when eaten in the right way, can actually help stabilize blood sugar? It’s true!
Most people equate carbs and sugars as the same thing, but they aren’t. Now, it is true that the body processes sugar and “simple carbohydrates” is very much the same way.
The simple carbohydrate is absorbed very quickly by the body, converted to glucose, and then released into the bloodstream (hence why simple carbs quickly raise your blood sugar!) The pancreas releases insulin in order to move the sugar from the bloodstream into the cells where it can be used for energy.
If there is not a sufficient amount of insulin available, or if the body’s cells are resistant to insulin, the excess glucose remains in the bloodstream. High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) occurs when the level of glucose in the blood rises above the normal range.
When the body consumes a simple carbohydrate, it responds the same way as if it had consumed sugar. There is no additional nutrition available to slow the absorption of the resulting sugars into the bloodstream and therefore, blood sugar rises.
Simple carbohydrates like baked goods made with white flour (breads, muffins, cakes, cookies, etc.) and processed foods like crackers, cereals and pastas should be avoided.
There are other carbohydrates (known as complex carbs) that have less of an impact on blood sugar. Complex carbs are converted into sugar more slowly, giving the body a better chance to regulate the amount of sugar in the blood. Here are 5 favorites!
Quinoa is a great source of both protein and fiber. One cup of quinoa contains 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. This combination not only fills you up, it helps stabilize your blood sugar, too!
As the oats are digested, they release energy slowly, allowing you to hold onto your feeling of fullness. It also helps to keeps blood sugar and insulin levels stable. To get the full benefits (and flavor) choose steel-cut oats made at home – stay away from microwave packets!
Raw, unsalted nuts like almonds and walnuts are full of protein, healthy fats, and nutrients. This makes nuts a great addition to meals and desserts, and also qualifies them as an exceptional snack. A handful of nuts will help you stay full and energized far longer than a bag of potato chips would!
Whole fruits like apples
The fiber in the fruit and skin of an apple helps you feel full and satisfied, and slows the absorption of the apple’s natural sugars into the bloodstream.
Whole vegetables like sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a complex carb that is high in many nutrients: beta-carotene, vitamins A, B6, C and E, thiamine, niacin, and potassium. They also contain protein and calcium!
The best way to enjoy carbs is in combination with foods that will help to slow their absorption even more. If the complex carbohydrate is paired with fiber, protein, or fat, it is absorbed even more slowly and blood sugar will remain more stable.
Fiber serves many purposes for the body. It helps to regulate blood sugar, it prevents the absorption of cholesterol, and promotes gut health and regularity. All of these benefits are especially helpful for diabetics as it is crucial to control blood sugar, as well as, heart health.
Research has shown that eating a diet rich in good fats lowers risk for heart disease, obesity and type II diabetes complications. According to several studies, it is not the amount of fat you eat that affects health, it is the type of fat. There are several different types of fats, each found in a variety of foods.
For example, instead of a plain piece of white bread toast for breakfast, try a slice of toasted whole wheat bread topped with a slice of cheese, an egg and a few slices of avocado. (If you’re feeling spicy, add some Sriracha!) Instead of a bowl of cereal, enjoy a bowl of full-fat Greek yogurt topped with fresh berries or sliced apple and sprinkled with cinnamon. (Yes, cinnamon is great for diabetics!)
Being diagnosed with high blood sugar does not mean that you can never enjoy carbs again. It simply means you now enjoy them in different ways, with even the slightest changes making a positive impact on your blood sugar and overall health!