The key to staying healthy on a diabetic diet is watching foods that contain sugar and carbohydrates. One should never have to cut anything out of their diet. With a little carbohydrate counting, a balanced diet and exercise, you can keep all of your favorite foods, get your blood glucose under control and lower your medication dosages.
Carbohydrate counting is probably the hardest thing about managing a diabetic diet. Carbohydrate counting does not mean cutting out carbs. It literally just means counting carbs. How do we count carbs? It’s easy. One serving of a carbohydrate is 15 grams. In the food world, 15 grams of carbohydrates is one (normal sized) slice of bread, ¼ bagel, ½ cup cooked oats, and ¼ piece of naan, 8 ounces (1 cup) milk, 6 ounces (¾ cup) yogurt, ½ cup mashed potatoes, ½ cup of beans or ½ cup cherries. That’s right, carbohydrates and sugars are also found in beans, starchy vegetables, yogurt, milk and fruit in addition to rice and bread.
A person with diabetes should never have more than three servings of carbohydrates at any meal. You guessed it–that means diabetics should not be eating an entire bagel or piece of naan regularly. It takes a lot of watching what you eat to maintain a diabetic diet, but it is not hard to do. You never have to completely give up any food.
Managing diabetes is all about portion control. When people do it right, they can minimize the symptoms of diabetes and even get their blood sugar levels down to normal levels. This is the ideal outcome of nutritional management of diabetes.
The following meals are some favorites. Watch portion sizes of the foods that contain carbohydrates so that you know you are not going over the 3 serving limit!
1. The Soul Food Favorite: “Breaded” and “Fried” Chicken, Sweet Potato Fries and Collard Greens
For your “fried chicken”, use a breading (instead of batter) that mixes bread crumbs with crushed almonds or walnuts to cut the carbohydrates in the dish in half. Sauté a thinly sliced chicken breast (about 4 ounces) in a lightly greased pan, so that it is browned on each side. Bake the sweet potato fries on a lightly greased pan. Season with salt and pepper. Make your portion size for the sweet potato fries about ½ of a cup. Make half (or about 2 ½ to 3 cups) of your plate collard greens.
2. East Indian-Style Shrimp Curry, Brown Rice and Vegetable Korma
Cook 4-5 ounces of shrimp per person in a tomato-based sauce filled with lots of veggies. Make your portion of brown rice about ½ cup. Make the vegetable korma out of lots of colorful vegetables.
**Remember that a lot of South Asian cooking fails at being diabetic-friendly by adding potatoes to curries. Keep this shrimp curry and vegetable korma potato-free! Stick to colorful vegetables to be on the safe side.
3. Lettuce Wrap
Throw some of your favorite grilled vegetables and grilled chicken or grilled tofu into 2 – 3 lettuce wraps, for a virtually carbohydrate-free meal. Eat it with a serving of fruit or 2-3 whole wheat crackers for some carbohydrates and sugar.
4. Diabetes-Friendly Burger and Potato Wedges
How do you make a burger diabetes-friendly? Look for low-carb buns. What is a low-carbohydrate bun? A low-carb bun is just a thinner bun. Look for buns by ThinSlim Foods or Great Low Carb Bread Company. Using freshly baked bread and slicing your own thin and smaller slices of bread for your burgers is an option as well. Remember, “low-carb” breads are usually just thinner buns. You can also use a tortilla that has been sliced in half for each the top and lower bun. Look for 15 grams of carbohydrates per bun. Make your serving of fries ½ cup to make sure you are not going overboard on carbohydrates in that area either.
5. High-Protein Breakfast Casserole
Breakfast casserole is a great way to fill up at breakfast time. If your casserole is full of potatoes, you are more likely to overdo the carbohydrates. Make your casserole with Italian sausage, eggs, cheese, sauteed peppers and onions and throw some leafy greens in there. The leafy greens will shrink into the food. The sausage, eggs and cheese will provide a good amount of protein and fat. The peppers and onions will provide flavor and lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber to balance out this high-calorie dish.