There are so many foods that contain carbohydrates. Some carbohydrates are better choices than others, and looking beyond the term “carbohydrates” can be difficult when managing blood sugar. However, going beyond the food label can open up your world to enjoying foods you love in a healthy and safe way.
Over the years, I have encountered many People with Diabetes (PWD) who were confused and frustrated about how to manage their blood sugars with food. Some PWD avoided seeing a Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN) or receiving diabetes education about eating healthy because they did not want to hear about what they could not eat. Often, PWD assumed that their eating habits are what drove them to the diagnosis of diabetes, and they would rather continue what they knew instead of venturing into the unknown. Following a meal plan, whether imposed by others or self-imposed, left some PWD feeling restricted and resentful of their diagnosis.
Fruits, vegetables, pasta, breads, grains, and beans contain carbohydrates. Some carbohydrates are better choices than others, and looking beyond the term “carbohydrates” can be difficult when managing blood sugar. However, going beyond the food label can open up your world to enjoying foods you love in a healthy and safe way.
I hear PWD say things like, “I cannot have fruit because fruit contains sugar,” or “I cannot eat pasta because pasta raises your blood sugar.” I recently helped an individual with Type 1 diabetes let go of her perceptions that fruit was bad for her. While fruit and pasta do contain carbohydrates, how much you eat and what you eat with the food greatly influence blood sugar management.
While there are over 100 diets to choose from, there is no one-diet-fits-all.
In May of this year, the American Diabetes Association released its Nutrition Therapy for Adults with Diabetes or Prediabetes consensus report. In it, the American Diabetes Association lists several recommendations including the need for an individualized eating plan that is ever-changing based on the person’s needs. I have always believed in the importance of individualized eating plans over standardized diets. What works for one person may not work for another. I recently tried a diet that made a lot of sense, yet I felt restricted and frustrated trying to keep up with the amount and type of food to eat at each meal.
I tell PWD to focus not just on the one food, but on your overall eating plan, fitness & stress level, and activities. There is more than one way to have the food that you love and maintain blood sugars. I encourage PWD to learn as much as they can about the fuel they put in their bodies and choose foods that will leave them satiated and satisfied for hours, not just a quick fix of high-carb foods. As I tell my children, try the food first to see if you like it as looks can be deceiving. I also encourage people to try herbs and spices, as many of them may have medicinal properties. However, PWD must speak with their healthcare provider before incorporating herbs in their meal plan, as some herbs may have adverse interactions with medications.
For the next several months, in a "problem foods" series, I will highlight some foods that can be controversial for diabetes, hoping to:
Dispel food myths with history and essential nutritional information
Help you become a student of your health by researching the foods you eat
Empower you to maximize your fuel
Help you try different foods in different ways
Inspire creativity within you to upgrade recipes to healthier versions.
Come back to Diathrive and look for the Problem Foods series. Follow this series on Diathrive’s social media pages and leave your feedback, including problem foods you are hesitant to include in your meal plan and why!