Carbohydrates are one of the three main nutrients found in food and beverages, that convert into sugar glucose as they break down in the body. For that reason, the carbohydrates you eat can have a direct impact on your blood sugar levels. Barbara Smith, certified diabetes educator, shares her tips for people who need to manage their carbohydrate intake more closely such as people with diabetes, pre-diabetes and insulin resistance. Here are her tips:
- Count Carbs – The amount of carbs you can and should eat vary from person to person and a diabetes educator can help you plan develop a plan for that. As a way to educate yourself, begin by counting the carbohydrates you need, and know that on average people with diabetes should get about 45% of their calories from carbs. Carb counting can help you keep your blood sugar levels close to a target range which will help you stay healthy longer and prevent or delay diabetes complications.
- Know How to Spot Carbohydrates – Carbs can be found in grains, fruit, dairy, legumes, snack foods, sugary drinks, starchy vegetables and alcohol. Foods that are low in carbs include: lean meats, fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds, oils, and some fruit such as apples, blueberries and strawberries. A good rule of thumb is to stick to low carb foods. Try to limit foods that have added sugars or are made with refined carbs, such as white bread, white rice, and most pasta. Opt for carbs such as fruit, vegetables, whole grain bread, brown rice, and beans.
- Stick to Unprocessed Foods – Healthy carbs are an important part of a healthy eating plan, but people who are dealing with blood sugar or insulin issues, need to be careful about which kinds of carbs they consume. Whole foods have less carbohydrates and added sugar in them and they also have the added benefit of fiber which slows the rate in which the carbs will affect your blood sugar levels.
- Don’t Drink Sugary Drinks. Period. – Drinks with added sugars are high in calories, and low in nutrients and fiber which your body needs. These drinks DO go towards your daily carb count and they directly impact your blood sugar levels and do so very quickly. They are simply not good for you.
- Nutrition Labels and Apps are Your Best Friend – Nutrition labels can go a long way to helping you determine how many carbs are in what you’re eating. If the food doesn’t have a nutrition label, you can use an app to estimate the amount of carbs.
If you have been recently diagnosed with a blood sugar issue, or your doctor has told you that you may be pre-diabetic or diabetic, now is a good time to make an appointment with a Westmed diabetes educator or nutritionist to help you get on track and build a meal plan. Watch the video below to get more tips on how to manage your diabetes from Barbara Smith.