Diabetic-Friendly Food Swaps

Managing diabetes can be difficult.

You may feel limited and overwhelmed by all of the dietary changes you have to make to keep your blood sugar at a healthy level.

Luckily, there are many small steps you can take to make your diet healthier and less stressful for you.

Everything Should Be More Complex

Complex does not have to mean difficult. And when it comes to eating healthy, complex is always better. Simple carbohydrates are refined sugars with minimal nutritional value compared to nutrient-rich complex carbohydrates. Some simple carbohydrates that might currently be part of your diet are white bread, pasta, and rice. These refined carbohydrates can spike your blood sugar.

When you are preparing meals, look to use whole-wheat flour instead of regular flour. It can also help to switch from white rice to brown rice. Try adding new ingredients to your recipes, such as beans, oatmeal, whole-grain bread crumbs, raisins, chopped apples, or blueberries. Lastly, think about making changes to old favorites. For example, serve potatoes with skins even in meals such as potato salad. Keep in mind that complex carbohydrates can help to slow digestion and prevent blood-sugar spikes. Plus, the added bonus is that these foods also make you feel fuller longer, which can help you with managing your weight.

Nuts and the Importance of Fat

Perhaps you like to eat nuts. But did you know that nuts are not just for snacking? They can also be a wonderful addition to cooked meals and salads. Dry-roasted peanuts and unsalted almonds can provide a healthy, low-carbohydrate mix of monounsaturated fats. Pumpkin seeds and unsalted almonds have been found to also contain magnesium, which is believed to be instrumental in carbohydrate metabolism. Additionally, walnuts and cashews can also be of great help in managing your diabetes. Often, one objection that is found to nuts is that they can be high in fat, but it's important to know that there are some fats that are healthy and others that are not.

Knowing what kinds of fats in other foods are good is essential to knowing what changes you should be making to your diet. If you are using lard, butter or hard margarine, which contain lots of saturated and/or trans fats, it is time to make a change. When cooking instead of the aforementioned, try using olive oil or olive-oil-based margarines. Olive oil contains lots of monounsaturated fats, which has been linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease and lower “bad” cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated fat. Look for extra-virgin olive oil, which is highest in these good fats.

Add Flair to Your Meals with Herbs

Salt seems to be essential to most meals because it provides flavor. Americans eat too much sodium, because it is so freely added to many foods for taste. However, salt can be substituted in many meals with herbs. Dried basil can be great for adding flavor to any pasta sauce for example, but it can also be used with vegetables, fish, chicken and lean meats. Other great tasty herbs you may want to consider adding to your meals are dried thyme, cumin, dried rosemary, crushed red pepper, crushed cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and dried oregano. Buying fresh herbs can also give a new flair to your meals. Some great additions to your foods can be herbs like fresh cilantro, mint, parsley and dill.

Chili powder and garlic seasonings can also be good substitutes for salt, but you must be cautious and read labels to make sure they are, in fact, free of sodium, as these can occasionally contain some salt. If you are buying stock to make broths, soups, or casseroles, make sure to always buy and use low-sodium versions of these. When purchasing other condiments such as soy sauce, bouillon cubes and teriyaki sauces, remember that these are all salty, but that low sodium variations are also available at most markets.

Source: DiabetesCare.net and Diabetes.org

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