Diabetes is at epidemic proportions in this country, and experts place a lot of blame on the food we choose to eat. But making a few small adjustments in your diet can have a big impact on your blood sugar, as well as your weight, experts note.
“Blood sugar rates are really high, and diet certainly plays a role in that,” says naturopath physician Trevor Cates.
“It doesn’t have to be super-complicated. You can do simple things on a day-to-day basis and it will make a difference in your blood sugar over time. And you don’t have to compromise your life and do without all the things you love. You just have to modify it a bit.”
A good place to start is with sugar-laden sodas, Cates tells Newsmax.
One can of Coke has a 39 grams of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. It not only has an extremely high glycemic index (GI) but is also 140 empty calories that won’t put a dent in your appetite.
“Instead of soda, you can drink sparkling water with flavored stevia drops,” suggests Cates, referring to the no-calorie natural sugar substitute. “That’s a great alternative.”
Here are some other food swaps that Cates and other experts say can help people to control their blood sugar:
Bananas/Berries: Bananas are loaded with potassium and other nutrients, but they also have a high GI and can make blood sugar spike. Berries are a better choice to put in your morning cereal or for snacking.
Cereal/Oatmeal: Even “healthy” boxed cereal tends to be loaded with sugar, but plain oatmeal is just oats. Oatmeal also has a lot of soluble fiber that slows down the release of its natural sugars. But read the labels of instant oatmeal carefully because the flavored varieties often have a lot of added sugar and preservatives. You can always add some fruit or honey yourself to sweeten up plain oatmeal. Steel cut oats are best.
White rice/Brown rice: Both are heavy on the carbs, but the white version is stripped of magnesium, potassium and other nutrients. The brown variety also has a lot more fiber, which helps to keep blood sugar in check.
Crackers/Carrots: When it comes time to eat guacamole, spinach dip, or hummus, instead of piling it on a cracker or chip, use a stick of carrot or celery. Many brands of crackers are made with refined grains that have had most of their nutrients processed out, and they also contain added sugars, salt and preservatives.
Light greens/Dark greens: All greens provide a lot of nutrition packed into low-calorie packages. But the dark ones – kale, spinach, arugula, chard, etc. – have higher levels of magnesium and potassium. These minerals are vital in the metabolism of sugar, and both are associated with a reduced risk of diabetes.
Potatoes/Beans: Get your starch fix with beans instead of potatoes. Beans have a considerably lower GI along with more fiber, protein, and blood sugar-balancing potassium. Kidney, garbanzo, soy, pinto, and black beans are best.
Fruit juice/Whole fruit: Both contain a lot of sugar, but the juice has no fiber to cushion the blow and can spike your blood sugar as quickly as soda.
Refined grains/Whole grains: This one is a no-brainer. When it comes to breads and pastas, why opt for bleached, flavorless stuff when you can have tastier versions with more nutrition, including fiber to help counter the negative impact of the carbs? Grow up and graduate from white bread.
Granola bars/Nuts: Granola bars have a reputation for being a healthy snack, but many of them are just as high in carbs as candy bars. Grab a handful of raw organic nuts instead. They’ll fill you up and are also mighty mites when it comes to healthy fats and nutrients.
Big plate/Small plate: Although not technically a “food swap,” research shows that people eat less when they use small plates. That’s because a full small plate looks like more food than a half-empty big plate, and we eat with our eyes as much as our stomachs. Since portion size is a big factor in diabetes, go small and save yourself a bunch of calories.