If you have diabetes or are prediabetic, eating a nutritious diet is crucial to regulating blood sugar levels. Yet, managing carbohydrates can be challenging. Here are some carb-friendly tips and ideas for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
In proper quantities, carbohydrates themselves aren’t bad, said Stacy Eilers, RDN, LDN, Clinical Nutritionist Educator at Mission Health. The key is moderation and choosing the best carbohydrate options. “We need carbs. They are the fuel for our body and we don’t run right without them,” said Eilers.
Eilers suggested choosing healthy carbohydrates and spreading them out throughout the day. “If you have too many carbs at one time, your body will get overloaded and can’t clear them out of your blood fast enough,” she explained.
Healthy carbs choices are fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, and whole grains, said Eilers. Low-carb foods are often found in nature. Most nonstarchy vegetables are low in carbohydrates and are extremely nutritious. They also offer additional health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, improving heart health, helping with weight loss and reducing the risk of cancer.
Eating a low-fat diet benefits both the heart and diabetes. “High-fat foods tend to linger longer and not just as indigestion. They can also cause your blood sugar to stay higher longer after a meal,” said Eilers.
Consider both the portion size and number of portions of carbohydrates consumed. Even too many healthy carbs can raise blood sugars. “A carb serving is 15 grams of carbohydrates,” said Eilers. “At meals, it is recommended that women have 2 to 3 carb servings and men have 3 to 4 servings.”
Pair a carbohydrate with a protein:
- Small piece of fruit with low-fat cheese
- Small apple with peanut butter
- Cut-up veggies with 2 tablespoons of hummus or guacamole
- Four to six 100 percent whole grain crackers with low-fat cheese or peanut butter
- 3 cups of air-popped popcorn sprinkled with parmesan cheese
- 1 slice of whole wheat bread with 1 ounce of chicken breast, lettuce and tomato
- 6 ounces of plain, non-fat yogurt with ¼ cup of salt-free nuts
For a low-carb/no-carb snack try:
- A small handful of lightly salted or salt-free nuts
- Low-fat string cheese
- Hard-boiled egg
- 6 olives (warning: high in sodium)
Stacy Eilers, RDN, LDN, is a Clinical Nutritionist Educator at Mission Health.