Foods to Focus on for Better Blood Sugar Control
For many people who have diabetes, food is probably the most complicated aspect of managing their condition. There's an endless selection of foods to choose from, which only makes it harder to figure out what to put on your plate and what to leave on the shelf at the store.
If you're looking for ways to improve your blood sugar control, consider trying the following advice:
Avoid foods that say "no sugar added." At first, you might think that no sugar added is a good sign for you, but the opposite is true. Foods that are advertised that way are likely to be high in carbohydrates, and carbohydrates are converted into sugar during digestion.
Avoid the ingredients sucrose, fructose and lactose. The "-ose" ending indicates sugar in the simple carbohydrate category, which is exactly the kind you want to skip. Read ingredient listings carefully, and when you see the -ose suffix, try to pass. Your body converts simple carbohydrates to sugar easily and quickly, which is not the goal.
Focus on complex carbohydrates instead: These are converted into sugar more slowly. Whole grain bread is a complex carbohydrate. Buy try different ones too, for variety. Barley and buckwheat, for example, are good choices.
Try to get protein in every meal. Eating protein can help slow down the rate at which your body turns carbohydrate into sugar. And protein is satisfying. It "sticks with you'" longer, so you won't want to eat too soon after your last meal. You can get protein from dried beans, chicken, fish, eggs, beef, nuts and tofu. Eating protein (in the right amounts), in other words, can help you control your weight.
Eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables. Healthy choices include bell peppers, zucchini, dark leafy greens, broccoli, eggplant, cabbage and asparagus. These foods are good sources of fiber.
Include dried beans in your diet. These are good sources of protein and fiber
Include healthy fats. That means avoiding trans fats and saturated fats, and including monounsaturated fats like olive oil.
Experiment with cinnamon: Some research has suggested that getting cinnamon every day can improve the way your body uses insulin, which helps to regulate your blood sugar levels. This has been shown to work on study subjects who consumed less than half a teaspoon of cinnamon per day. Cinnamon is available in capsule form. There's also some evidence that cinnamon may help lower triglycerides, a type of blood fat.
Watch your portions: Keeping your weight in the healthy range is one good way to help your body use insulin more efficiently.
Talk with a registered dietitian. This is so helpful, especially if you just found out you have diabetes. A registered dietitian can take a look at the foods you're used to eating now, spot the potential problem areas in your diet and make recommendations for foods that you should try to include.
Diabetes Care, 29:1777-1783; 2006; Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, December 2003; U.S. Agricultural Research Service