According to the Diabetes Research Institute, approximately 11.3% of Americans live with diabetes, and studies have shown that diet plays an important role in managing it. If you’re considering trying to limit your carbohydrate intake, we’re here to offer insight and a few tips with this beginner’s guide to a low carb diet for diabetics!
Why a Low Carb Diet?
Starches and sugars found in carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels, but rather than eliminating carbs completely (not a good idea), a low carb diet should be full of nutrient-rich carbs with high fiber content. Good examples of healthier carbs include vegetables, fruits (especially berries), seeds, and nuts. A person’s tolerance for carbohydrates varies, so there’s no set standard for how many carbs you should consume each day that will work for every diabetic. When beginning a low carb or keto diet, it’s recommended to monitor your blood glucose levels before and one to two hours after eating to find the carbohydrate amount that works best for your body.
Best and Worst Foods
Well-balanced meals are key to a low carb diet for diabetics. One way to picture a healthy balance is by making up your plate this way: half nonstarchy vegetables, one quarter with proteins, and the other quarter with smart carbs. While not an exhaustive list, here are a few suggestions on the best and worst foods to consume as a diabetic:
- Non-starchy vegetables such as lettuce, broccoli, green beans, cucumbers, mushrooms, carrots, and peppers
- Meat, poultry, and seafood
Okay in Moderation Foods:
- lower-sugar fruits such as apples, berries, and cantaloupe
- Whole wheat bread and oatmeal
- Brown rice and whole-grain pasta
- Starchy veggies like corn, peas, sweet potatoes, squash, beans, and lentils
- Dairy products such as plain yogurt and cottage cheese
- Dark chocolate
- Small amounts of liquor and dry wines
- White bread, cereals, rice, and potatoes
- Sweet tea, juice, soda, and other sugary drinks
- Coffee creamers and sweeteners
- Candy, ice cream, and other desserts
- Processed snacks such as chips and cookies
- Research low carb diet options: Since everyone requires a unique amount of carbs, finding the proper level you can tolerate will take time. Find a good starting point, monitor your blood glucose levels closely, and keep in contact with your healthcare professional.
- Start where you can: Cutting down your carbs all at once may not be sustainable for you, and that’s okay! Start with a small change, and steadily work your way to an ultimate goal. Little steps make an impact, and every step forward is progress!
- Remember– quality over quantity: Don’t stress over the total carb amount of the day more than ensuring the type of carbs you’re ingesting are from high-quality, whole foods. At the end of the day, 40 grams of carbs from whole grain bread, fruits, veggies, and nuts are better than 40 grams of carbs from white potatoes, soda, and a candy bar.
- Get enough fiber: Fiber helps you feel fuller longer, which helps to avoid mindless snacking, helps stabilize blood sugar levels, and supports your overall health. If you feel like you can’t get enough from your food, consider taking a fiber supplement!
- Spread out your carbs throughout the day: Resist the temptation to save up your carbs for one big “splurge.” This will result in dips and spikes in your blood sugar, making a low carb diet unsustainable. You want to make sure your energy levels stay as even as possible so you’re feeling your best all day long.
At our independent Missouri pharmacy, we go out of our way to find the best possible products. We work for you and are always available to answer your questions! Feel free to reach out anytime! Now that you’ve read about a low carb diet for diabetics, check out the top healthy habits you should add to your daily routine!