Diabetes shouldn’t have you fearing your food! Too many people give up delicious, nutritious foods because they have some vague idea that blood sugars go wonky when they eat certain things. Have no fear! While it’s a good idea to limit baked goods and greasy fast food, you can nearly always find room for nutrient-dense foods like these.
Whole-Grain Pasta. This inexpensive, quick-to-prepare dinner staple can stay on the menu. Just be cautious with your portion. Piling on the pasta is what spikes blood glucose. It’s not the pasta itself; it’s the amount of pasta. A full cup of spaghetti provides nearly 45 grams of carbohydrate. If that’s more than your meal plan allows or if you’re eating other carb-rich foods at the same meal, cut back to ½ cup or even less. Mix it with non-starchy vegetables to bulk up the portion without overloading the carbs.
White Potatoes. There’s no reason to shun this nutrient-rich food. Again, watch your portion. About ½ cup potato provides 15 grams carbohydrate, about the same as a slice of bread or small piece of fruit. Potatoes also give us blood pressure-friendly potassium, vitamin C, dietary fiber, & magnesium, a mineral that may help with blood sugar control.
Bananas. Just because they’re white and have a high glycemic index, many people think bananas are bad for blood sugar control. But the banana is also packed with nutrition. A medium fruit has about 30 grams of carbohydrate, twice the amount of a small apple or peach or a full cup of blackberries. If that’s what worries you, eat just ½ banana, or eat the whole banana and count it as two pieces of fruit. To get slightly fewer carbs, eat bananas that are a bit green.
Avocados. They’re high in calories, but they also give us heart-healthy fats. Replacing unhealthy saturated and trans fats with good-for-you unsaturated fats is a boon to the heart and might even improve insulin resistance. Avocados also provide potassium, vitamin E, and more.
Fruit Juice. Tossing a glass of juice down your throat in one giant swallow will likely raise blood sugar more than slowly eating a small piece of fruit. But 100% fruit juice is also nutrient-dense and most likely doesn’t need to be avoided. Measure out 3 to 4 ounces (equivalent to a fruit serving) and drink it at a reasonable pace. Learn the carb counts of your favorite juices and count them toward your meal allowance.
Measure Blood Sugar in Pairs. Learn for yourself how various foods and different amounts of food affect you. Measure your blood sugar right before eating and two hours after your first bite. The difference between the two numbers is largely the result of your food choices and the amounts you ate. Measuring only the after-meal blood glucose tells only part of the story.
By Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND, CHWC
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.