Stocking your pantry: Essentials for the diabetic home kitchen
Stocking your kitchen with diabetic-friendly foods isn't just good for the convenience factor - it's essential for helping you to create healthy habits and make good dietary decisions on a daily basis so you're not led astray by cravings.
And with so many low-glycemic and made-for-diabetic type foods available these days, it's easier than ever to eat well. However, it all comes back to basics.
Foods to Keep in Your Kitchen
Proteins. For diabetics, lean protein is king. These types of proteins (lean turkey, skinless chicken, and many types of fish) are chock-full of amino acids, are lower in calories and fat than other types of meat, and will help keep you full. Most importantly, they'll help stabilize your blood sugar and prevent carbohydrate cravings.
Vegetables. Luckily for diabetics, you can pretty much consider vegetables a "freebie" on your diet plan: eat as much as you want, as long as you're not loading up too heavily on starchy, root vegetables like potatoes or squash. Stick with veggies like spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, snap peas, cabbage, green beans, and collard greens.
Low-glycemic fruit. Fruit isn't totally off limits for diabetics, but you should be more picky about which fruits you eat. While fruits contain natural sugars, they're still sugars. Berries are the top pick, followed by things like oranges, tangerines, peaches, melon, grapes, or plums. Try to avoid tropical fruits like mango or pineapple, as they tend to be higher in sugar.
Dairy. Dairy products, provided they are low-fat, are a good compliment to your diet, especially since many offer a decent dose of protein. Stock up on fat-free or low-fat Greek yogurt, skim-milk cheeses, or low-fat cheeses like Baby Bell or Laughing Cow.
Fiber. Many diabetics may opt to take a fiber supplement, like Metamucil, but you can also get enough fiber in your diet. Whole grains contain fiber, as do vegetables, beans, and many types of protein bars, like Quest Bars. Fiber will help stabilize your blood sugar, keep you "regular" and prevent hunger pangs.
Condiments. When buying condiments, check labels to make sure they're low in sugar, sodium and fat. Opt for reduced-sugar jams and jellies, extra-virgin olive oil or cooking spray for cooking, and low-fat or fat-free salad dressings.
Sugar substitutes. If you're a baker, make sure to stock up on some sugar substitutes for your diabetic kitchen. Natural versions like stevia and erythritol are well-tolerated by most people, and they are widely available in grocery stores across the country.
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