It’s All About the Carbs
Despite the popular diet trends, carbohydrates are important to the diabetes diet. The key to the diabetes diet is the right proportion of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. In addition to vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates provide the body with energy and are key components to a healthy diet. Eating the right number of carbohydrates per meal is critical; however, since carbs are the main kinds of food that cause blood spikes, awareness of the amount in a meal is crucial.
Tips for successful carb counting:
• Know the foods containing carbohydrates (breads, pastas, starches, sweets)
• Read nutrition labels
• Spread carbohydrates throughout the day
• Be aware of hidden sources, such as bread crumbs used in a vegetable casserole
Sugar, starch and fiber are the three major sources of carbohydrates. On nutrition labels, “total carbohydrates” includes all three sources and is the term to look for when counting carbs.
Types of sugar:
• Natural: occur naturally in foods such as fruit and milk
• Added: added to foods in cookies, pastries, etc., but look for “hidden” sugars in other foods
Foods high in starch:
• Foods made from grains, such as breads, pastas, rice, and cereal
• Vegetables such as potatoes, corn and peas
• Beans: dried beans, lentils, lima bean, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, etc.
Fiber is the indigestible part of plant based foods. Getting fiber from foods is better than from supplements because of the added vitamins and minerals from high fiber foods.
Foods high in fiber:
• Beans and legumes
• Fruits and vegetables
• Whole grains
For a healthy diet to control diabetes, 45-65% of total calories should be from carbohydrates, with a total calorie count of at least 1,200.
Examples of a 1,500 calorie daily meal plan:
• Total carbohydrates (grams per serving): 174
• Starches (15g): 6 servings
• Fruits (15g): 2 servings
• Dairy (12g): 2 servings
• Vegetables (5g): 3 servings
• Meat: 6 oz. total
• Fats (15g): 6
Meals should be distributed throughout the day and include an afternoon or evening snack. The suggested number of carbohydrates should be eaten at each meal and cannot be carried over or “saved” for the next meal.
Sample Daily Meal:
• 1 cup cereal (30g starch)
• 1 cup fat-free milk (12g dairy)
• ½ banana (15g fruit)
• Total: 57g
• Sandwich made of lean turkey, reduced fat cheese, (3 oz. meat) low-fat mayonnaise (1 Tbsp. fat) on 2 slices whole wheat bread (30g)
• 1 small salad (5g) with low fat dressing (2 Tbsp. fat)
• 1 large apple (30g fruit)
• Total: 65g
• ½ cup plain, fat-free yogurt (6 oz. dairy)
• 1 cup yellow squash (15g starch)
• ½ cup asparagus (5g vegetable)
• 1 whole wheat roll (15g) with margarine (2 Tbsp. fat)
• 1 cup salad greens (5g) with vinaigrette dressing (1 Tbsp. fat)
• Baked tilapia (3 oz. meat)
• Total: 40g
Be sure to include a variety of colorful foods in your daily meal plan. Living with diabetes is not easy, but proper nutrition is one of the keys to controlling your diabetes.