Are you confused about eating carbs when you have diabetes? Here are the ways you may be able to enjoy carbs without causing problems with blood sugar control.
Here’s what’s going on: When you eat carbs, your body breaks them down into sugar (aka glucose) which is used for energy. Glucose is the ideal energy source for most bodily functions, including — most important — brain power. And insulin is a hormone that takes care of keeping your blood glucose in a safe range by transporting glucose from the blood into your body’s cells.
1. Understand that not all carbs are created equal.
Sweet potatoes have carbs. So do chips. But there’s a small difference between them that’s actually kind of a BIG difference. Simple carbs found in most processed or refined foods, like white bread, rice, and chips, are digested quickly, thus causing a rapid rise in blood sugar. It’s almost like an injection of sugar; you don’t have to be a scientist to see that this isn’t the best choice for someone with diabetes.
But complex carbs found in natural foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains contain fiber which slows digestion — preventing that sugar spike — and also keeps you fuller longer. Check foods labels and reach for product with 3 grams of fiber or more per serving to keep that sugar in control.
2. Add a protein.
Protein + Carb = <3. Include a protein with meals and snacks. Like fiber, protein can prevent spikes in blood sugar by slowing digestion and serves to keep you fuller, longer too! Choose lean cuts of meat and seafood for animal protein. For meat-free options, you get protein from legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, low-fat dairy, and soy products.
3. Practice portion control.
Pay attention to portion sizes. Check the nutrition facts panel for the serving size, maybe even invest in some measuring cups, and teach yourself to recognize portion sizes. Like, when you make a fist (pump) it’s about 1 cup. The point is portion size DOES matter.
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