These Foods Can Replace Rice and Potatoes in a Diabetic Diet

Do you love rice and potatoes in your meals? Unfortunately, if you have diabetes, your favorite meal may be your greatest enemy. People with diabetes need to minimize them, as well as a number of other white starches such white bread products and pasta. Even if you can eat them, you have to do so in moderation. However, if you are a diabetic, you can now rejoice! There are delicious foods that you can use as substitutes for rice and potatoes and have a delicious wholesome meal that satisfies you completely.

These Foods Can Replace Rice and Potatoes in a Diabetic Diet

Value of Rice and Potatoes on the Glycemic Index

As you know, rice and potatoes are foods that are packed with starches. They can both lead to a marked increase in your blood sugar levels. The glycemic index is what ranks the impact of a food containing carbohydrates on your levels of blood glucose. Foods that significantly and quickly increase blood sugar rank higher on a scale of 1 to 100 than foods with a low to moderate effect. According to the Glycemic Index Foundation, foods with a score higher than a 55 are considered high-glycemic index while those with less than a 55 are considered low-glycemic index.

When it comes to rice, the type and cooking method may result in some variation in the index values. With boiled white rice, the value ranges from the 70s to high 80s. The value of boiled brown rice ranges from the high 60s to the high 80s. A baked potato has a value that ranges from 78 to 111, while a boiled potato’s value is 89.

Carbohydrate Content of Rice and Potatoes

The starches found in rice and potatoes are complex carbohydrates that get broken down by the body into glucose – a form of sugar which provides fuel to your muscles and vital organs. Your body rapidly breaks down the starches in rice and potatoes, which in turn results in a faster increase of glucose levels in the bloodstream. According to the UMass Memorial Medical Center, when you cook starchy foods longer, the starch becomes more gelatinized, raising its glycemic index value. The glycemic index value of a food can also be affected by the type of starch it contains.


Basmati rice contains high amounts of amylose, which has a less significant effect on your body’s blood sugar than amylopectin which is another type of starch found in rice. Basmati rice has a value of only 57, making it a moderate-glycemic index food.

Substitutes for Rice and Potatoes in a Diabetic Diet

Are you totally dreading eating meals without your favorite mashed potatoes or serving of rice?  Stop worrying and start getting a little smarter with food. You can always cut carbohydrates from your diet by making creative substitutions.

Potato Alternatives

diabetic dietSquash to make Hash Browns: Do you like a couple of hash browns for breakfast? Well, you really do not have to give it up – you can create a delicious substitute with summer squash. Summer squash tastes a lot like potatoes when cooked but the good thing is that it contains only a fraction of the carbs. You can use this great veggie to make hash browns. All you have to do is grate the squash, add an egg to mix as a binder, make patties and fry them in olive oil. You may find that they are not as crispy and firm as regular hash browns but you will get the potato flavor. With this recipe, you can eliminate about 15 grams of carbs per hash brown patty.

diabetic diet

Cauliflower to make Mashed Potatoes: Did you know that you can substitute potatoes with cauliflower? You totally can! You can make your favorite mashed potatoes without those pesky carbohydrates. Just steam some frozen or fresh cauliflower in the microwave. Next, spray some butter substitute on the cauliflower, add a small bit of non-fat half-and-half substitute and puree in a blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste and you have something that can compete with the real thing any day! To make it even tastier, add cheese, roasted garlic or sour cream – you will not even remember what real mashed potato tastes like. This recipe can eliminate 30 grams of crabs per cup – how could you say no to it?

diabetic dietRoasted vegetables are also a great way to substitute potatoes. Simply cut up different vegetables into similar-sized pieces and then place them on a baking sheet. You can use sweet potato, butternut squash, carrots, grape or cherry tomatoes, zucchini, acorn squash, parsnips and asparagus. Drizzle with some olive oil and add salt and pepper. Toss to coat everything evenly. Next, place your tray in a 400-degree oven and let the veggies bake for 20 to 40 minutes – check with a fork to see how tender they are. Once they are nice and tender, take them out of the oven and serve! The taste and visual appeal of this dish will make you forget spuds!

Rice Alternatives

diabetic diet

Lentils are a superb alternative to rice. They are rich in protein and fiber, offering a wealth of health benefits. They do not need much time to cook up – about the same amount of time as rice. You will find lentils in different varieties and colors, so finding one to complement your main dish will be easy. You can also cook it as a side dish. To add more flavor to your lentils, simmer in vegetable, beef or chicken stock. You can also add herbs to make your lentil dish suit whatever you are serving as the main dish.

Other rice alternatives include quinoa and barley. However, they are really that much different to rice, but they are more nutritious, making them a better and healthier choice for you.

Did you think that a diabetic diet had to be plain and bland? Not so! You can eat delicious dishes that are super-healthy, nutritious and do not affect your blood sugar levels. Keep these foods in mind when you are looking for rice and potato substitutes. Your diet will be rich in diabetic-healthy foods that look and taste amazing!


Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG.

Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG.

Dr Kethu is a practicing Gastroenterologist. He is a healthcare and real estate entrepreneur. He writes frequently on topics related to health care, healthy living, and physical fitness. He is the author of Amazon’s best-selling book, “The IBS Guide”. He is an avid marathon runner and is on track to finish his 100th marathon in 2024.

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