If you have recently been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes, you may have a lot of questions about your diet. You are not alone! There is so much information out there that it can be downright confusing. The one thing that is certain is watching the types of foods you consume and the way you eat that can play a significant role in managing your blood sugars and prevent further health complications. Here are some answers to the top questions on diet and diabetes.
Are carbohydrates okay to consume when you have pre-diabetes or diabetes?
The answer is YES! Carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient that our body needs for energy production. It is best to include a source of carbohydrates at all meals and snacks to help maintain normal blood sugar levels. The issue comes when you eat too much or not enough carbohydrates. This causes drastic fluctuations in blood sugar levels which can cause harm to the body.
What foods contain carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are found in fruits, grains/cereals, starchy vegetables (i.e sweet potato, corn, peas), dairy (i.e. milk, yogurt, cheese) and non-starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables like broccoli and green beans contain carbohydrates but much less per serving than the other sources of carbohydrate. Some other foods that contain carbohydrates include beans/legumes, juices, candy, and baked goods.
How many meals and snacks do I need a day?
Make sure to plan three balanced meals and two to three balanced snacks a day, eating every two to four hours. This will ensure your body gets a steady stream of carbohydrates to help maintain consistent blood sugars throughout the day. This is also even more important if you are on any blood sugar lowering medications like insulin or metformin.
How do I create a balanced meal or snack with carbohydrates?
All meals and snacks should incorporate a source of carbohydrate, protein, and fiber. Protein and fat help slow the digestion of carbohydrate to prevent spikes in blood sugars. Fiber is also another important nutrient to incorporate at meals and it is found in fruits, vegetable, whole grains, nuts/seeds and legumes. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that does not get absorbed into the bloodstream, therefore it does not affect blood sugar levels. What it does is slow digestion and help keep you full longer. Check out myplate.gov for more suggestions on how to build a balanced plate.
Which carbohydrates should I choose and avoid?
All sources of carbohydrates can be included in a balanced diet. Focus on planning meals and snacks around carbohydrate sources like whole grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, vegetables, legumes/beans or dairy products.
While sweets and treats can be incorporated on occasion, make sure to limit them to one serving and pair with a source of protein or fat. For example, cookies with low fat milk are a great option. The low fat milk provides some protein and a small amount of fat to help slow digestion. Another idea is to have the sweet with a meal. If you are accounting for the carbohydrates in the dessert as part of the total carbohydrates at a meal which includes a source of fat and protein, this will help slow down the digestion and prevent sugar spikes.
For more recommendations on how to plan meals and carbohydrates and manage diabetes for your specific needs, please contact Lauren Sharifi and set up an appointment.
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