It is possible to help control blood sugar levels through diet modifications by watching how many carbohydrates you eat. It is not necessary that you completely eliminate carbohydrates from your diet, but watching how much you eat can help keep blood sugar levels within a good range. All foods that help maintain a healthful lifestyle are suitable for a diabetic diet.
Foods that contain carbohydrate include:
- Breads, crackers, and cereals
- Pasta, rice, and grains
- Starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn, and peas)
- Beans and legumes
- Milk, soy milk, and yogurt
- Fruits and fruit juices
- Sweets and candies (cakes, cookies, ice cream, jam, and jelly)
In diabetes meal planning, one serving of carbohydrate equals 15 grams. Limiting yourself to 3-4 servings (45-60 grams) of carbohydrate per meal and 1-2 (15-30 grams) for a snack will help keep blood sugar levels under control. This is typically called “carbohydrate counting”.
Check nutrition fact labels and use a food scale to help keep track of how many carbohydrates you are eating.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) provides a top 10 diabetes superfoods list, all of which you can find at your local Rouses.
The ADA Top 10 Superfoods for diabetes are:
Although beans are a carbohydrate, they are an excellent source of fiber, which can actually slow the digestion of carbohydrates so your blood sugars don’t spike too quickly. We like local beans like Blue Runner and Camellia. One serving or 15 grams of carbohydrate is equal to ½ cup dried beans.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
These can be considered a “free food,” meaning you can eat as much as you want and it won’t impact your blood sugars. Plus they’re full of vitamins and minerals.
Though fruits cause your blood sugars to rise, feel free to eat a proper serving size; a citrus fruit that is the size of a baseball is equal to 15 grams.
Opt for local sweet potatoes, which are full of beta carotene, an antioxidant that helps with eyesight and glowing skin. A medium sweet potato would count as two carbohydrate servings, or 30 grams.
One cup is equal to 15 grams of carbohydrate.
Also considered a “free food,” and good thing because we’ve got plenty of local tomatoes to go around!
Fish High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
At Rouses and on the Gulf Coast, there’s never a shortage of fish. Aim to eat 6-9 ounces of fish each week and avoid breaded and deep fried varieties as these can negate the benefits.
Grains are carbohydrates, but they should still be included in your diet. Whole grains are filled with fiber, which can slow the absorption of carbohydrate and prevent a spike in blood sugars. Whole grains include Rouses brown rice and whole grain pastas.
Nuts, like local pecans, are great sources of protein and healthy fats that help keep you full longer. Even though they don’t contain carbohydrate, try to limit a serving of nuts to the size of your palm because they can be high in calories.
Fat-Free Milk and Yogurt
The main thing that varies between milk is the amount of fat, but choosing Rouses fat-free milk is an all-around healthy choice. An 8-ounce glass of milk and 6-ounce serving of yogurt is equal to one serving or 15 grams of carbohydrate.
The ADA also recommends eating a healthy and well-balanced diet that includes lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, and limits alcohol, saturated fats, and sugary beverages. Cut back on sugar consumption by using sugar-free water flavors or switching to diet soda and reading food labels.
Here is a list of serving sizes for common carbohydrate foods you’ll see on our aisles. Each serving size is equal to 15 grams of carbohydrate; pick 3-4 of these items to include with each meal:
Breads, grains, cereals:
- 1 slice of bread
- 6 crackers
- ½ cup cooked grits or oatmeal
- 1/3 cup cooked rice or pasta
- ¾ cup dry, unsweetened cereal
- 3 cups cooked popcorn
- 10-15 chips
- ½ large banana
- 1 cup of melon cubes (any local melon counts)
- 15 grapes or cherries
- 2 Tbsp. raisins
- 4 ounces fruit juice
- 1 small piece of fruit
- ½ medium potato (sweet potatoes or regular potatoes)
- ½ cup or small ear of corn kernels
- ½ cup dry beans
- ½ cup green peas
Sweets and desserts:
- ½ cup Rouses ice cream
- ¼ cup sherbet
- 6 vanilla wafers
- 2 Oreos
- 3 graham cracker squares
- 5 chocolate Kisses
- 1 tablespoon Rouses honey or sugar (try substituting sugar for Swerve Sweetener)
- 3 ounces of soda
Substitute lower carbohydrate foods in typically high carbohydrate dishes. Below are some high carbohydrate dishes and ways to make them lower in carbs. You will find all of them on our aisles.
Rice Substitute: Quinoa
While it still contains carbohydrates, quinoa is an easy substitute for rice. It’s a complete protein source that is lower in carbohydrates than rice, meaning you can eat more of it. It has a thicker hull, which makes it a bit crunchier in texture and full of fiber. That also slows down the digestion of carbs into your body, preventing spikes in blood sugar.
Pasta Noodles Substitute: Spaghetti Squash
Bake this squash in the oven, cut it in half, and fork out the spaghetti noodles to use for pasta. This amazing food literally looks like spaghetti and tastes good too! The best part? It’s considered a “free food” for diabetes, meaning the carbohydrate content is so low you can eat as much as you’d like. You can also substitute this for lasagna noodles.
Lasagna Noodle Substitute: Zucchini or Spaghetti Squash
Thinly sliced zucchini can be layered like lasagna noodles to make a low carb version.
Mashed Potato Substitute: Cauliflower
Also a free food. Steam them and mash them as you would potatoes.
Flour Substitute: Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour
The almond meal variety is an excellent alternative to regular wheat flours, which are higher in carbohydrates.
Sugar Substitute: Swerve Sweetener
Swerve is an all-natural sugar substitute made from fruits and vegetables that measures cup for cup like sugar in baking. But don’t limit Swerve to just baking, use it in place of sugar in your coffee and anywhere else you might add the sweetener. Best of all, it’s a local product made right here on the Gulf Coast!
Sliced Bread Substitute: Ezekiel 4:9 Flax Sprouted Whole Grain Bread
Ezekiel bread has slightly less carbohydrates than other breads, and it is loaded with fiber, which helps slow the digestion of the carbohydrates, preventing spikes in blood sugar.
Cereal Substitute: Kashi Go Lean Cereal, Greek Yogurt, or Eggs with Vegetables
Although one cup of Kashi Go Lean cereal is still 30 grams of carbohydrates, it’s much higher in protein and fiber than most other cereals, which again will help slow the digestion of carbs. Another plus is that it’s lower in added sugar. Other cereal options include: Cheerios, Wheaties, Wheat Chex, and Shredded Wheat. Greek yogurt is a great low carb substitute. It is significantly lower in carbs (1/2 cup is about 4 grams) and is still very high in protein. Eggs are also high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Adding some non-starchy vegetables to scrambled eggs is a great way to fill up and add flavor without going overboard.