Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which it affects the way your body utilizes food for energy. After eating most foods, they turn into sugar (glucose) which then ends up in your bloodstream. When your blood sugar is elevated – your pancreas releases insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that transports the blood sugar back into your cells for energy.
When you have Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM), your body is resistant to utilizing insulin due to being overweight/obese, excess belly fat and physical inactivity. Because your body is not utilizing insulin, too much blood sugar stays in the bloodstream– resulting in high blood sugar.
If you do not manage your T2DM by maintaining a healthy diet, over time it can create serious health complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, eye and vision problems, etc. Working with a dietitian can help you identify foods you should try to avoid and develop a healthier diet that works for you.
Which foods affect your blood sugar?
Carbohydrates are one of the main food groups. Carbohydrates break down into sugar, which affects your blood sugar. There are healthy carbohydrates (complex carbohydrates, which contain fiber) and there are unhealthy carbohydrates (refined carbohydrates, or simple sugars).
Does this mean I can’t eat carbohydrates at all?
No. It’s best to limit your unhealthy carbohydrate intake and replace them with healthy carbohydrates.
What are unhealthy carbohydrates?
Unhealthy carbohydrates have added sugars. Some examples include:
Of note –If a food contains <5g sugar per serving, it would be considered lower in sugar. Most people are not aware that 1 C of milk (1%, 2%, whole milk) contains 12 grams of sugar. So if you are drinking 2 C of milk daily, you are drinking 24 grams of sugar.
What are healthy carbohydrates?
Healthy carbohydrates contain fiber or starch. Some examples include:
- Whole grains
- Brown rice
- Starchy vegetables (i.e., beets, carrots, corn, sweet potato)
Develop Healthy Eating Habits
Consulting with a dietitian and maintaining healthy eating habits can help you avoid blood sugar spikes. For instance, whenever you are eating a carbohydrate, you want to make sure you always have protein or a healthy fat with the carbohydrate. Carbohydrates spike your blood sugar as they are quickly digested. Maintaining a healthy diet by eating healthy fats and protein take longer to digest, which slows the digestion of the carbohydrate and keeps your blood sugar more stable.
Examples of pairing your carbohydrate with protein or fat:
- Oatmeal (carbohydrate) with walnuts (protein and healthy fat)
- Apple (carbohydrate) with a cheese stick (protein)
- Sweet potato (carbohydrate) with chicken (protein)
- Small banana (carbohydrate) with cottage cheese (protein)
- Slice of whole grain toast (carbohydrate) with peanut butter (protein and healthy fat)
A Registered Dietitian can educate you on how many grams of carbohydrates you should be eating daily and what is considered a serving of carbohydrate. Nutritional Counselor Get in touch with Behavioral Nutrition to learn more about how we can help you find foods that will allow you to develop healthy eating habits.