Diabetes & Diet - Food Substitutions
Great Food Substitutions For Those Living With Diabetes
As someone living with diabetes, it’s important to pay awfully close attention to your diet. That’s because what you put into your body can have a dramatic impact on your blood sugar level, including causing dangerous spikes that none of us want to experience.
That being said, food is one of life’s finer pleasures and, unfortunately, many people with diabetes find themselves feeling a little constrained when it comes to enjoy all those palate-pleasing treats and meals. While it’s true that you certainly can’t afford to throw caution to the wind, you can find some great alternatives to those not-so-great-for-you foods that are just as delicious and satisfying.
This post highlights some of the favorite food substitutes we’ve learned about and puts them all together in one place for your quick and easy reference. We’ll start out with some general substitutions and then get into a few specific food swaps that are sure to make living with diabetes at little more convenient and a whole lot tastier. Check them out and enjoy!
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Big Picture Food Substitutions for Diabetes
There are some general rules for substituting worth following when you’re trying to manage blood sugar and control your diabetes. Here’s some food for thought we think you’ll find helpful:
- Swap Processed Snacks for Preparing It Fresh!
Sure, processed foods are convenient and might seem like a fine choice in a pinch. However, these foods are often loaded with added sugars, which can throw your blood sugar out of whack, and sodium which is not good for your blood pressure or cardiovascular health, another concern for those with diabetes. Here’s a tip. Set aside one day a week to prepare diabetes-friendly snacks that you can store in the fridge. Chop up fresh veggies to enjoy with a little hummus; prepare a half dozen hard boiled eggs; cut up some fresh fruit; or prepare a nice salad you can dig into anytime you get hungry.
- Swap cookies and candies for berries and trail mix
You’d be surprised how well fresh berries can satisfy that sweet tooth, and a hearty trail mix is always a winning snack that’s low in carbohydrates. You’ll find plenty of diabetes friendly trail mix brands on the market. Just make sure there’s no added sugar or salt and you’ve got a great anytime snack.
- Swap refined carbs for whole grains
Ditch the white bread, white rice, and processed pasta, all of which have been stripped of their fiber, for whole grain choices that keep the fiber intact. It takes longer for the body to digest fiber, so eating whole grains can make it easier to control your blood sugar level and maintain your target range. Plus, going with whole grains is no problem these days. There are plenty of natural breads on the market; brown rice is always available at your local supermarket; and there are plenty of pastas being made with beans, lentils, and other diabetes-friendly ingredients.
- Swap processed protein for lean choices
Processed meats tend to be extremely high in sodium and often contain more than their fair share of saturated fat, both of which are no help in managing diabetes and controlling blood glucose levels. So instead of packaged lunch meats, sausages, and bacon, go with lean cuts of skinless chicken or turkey. Salmon and other fresh fish are also great protein choices. You can also try substituting tofu or lentils instead of chicken in many recipes.
Our Top 7 Diabetes Food Swaps
Okay, now let’s get a little more specific with our diabetes-smart food substitutions. What follows are some of our top swaps. They’re easy to make and they don’t ask you to sacrifice much, if anything, in terms of satisfaction.
- Forget processed sugar. Switch to a Monkfruit sweetener.
What the heck is monk fruit? It’s a fruit native to southern China that contains natural compounds that are up to 200 times sweeter than ordinary sugar. Crazy but true. Monk fruit sweeteners from brands like Lakanto have zero calories, zero carbs and are zero-glycemic. Instead of adding sugar to your tea or coffee, try this natural swap. It’s also great for baking.
- Frozen fruit instead of frozen junk.
We all love a frozen treat now and then. Unfortunately, many that you buy in your grocer’s freezer are high in added sugars and other not-so-great stuff. Instead, pop some fresh blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries in your freezer and before you know it, you’ll have some delicious frozen treats. Mix them up in a cup and enjoy.
- Spaghetti Squash instead of pasta
It looks like pasta. It has the consistency of pasta. But it’s not past. It’s actually a low-cal, low-carb alternative that will go great with your favorite marinara or tomato sauce.
- Lettuce wrap instead of a bun
Whether you’re serving up veggie tacos, a burger, or a lean chicken breast sandwich, instead of plopping it on a roll or wrapping it in a tortilla, put it between two large pieces of bibb lettuce. You’ll cut out the carbs and sugars, and still enjoy a hearty hand-held meal.
- Cauliflower rice instead of processed white rice
You can do this swap in one of two ways. Buy some fresh cauliflower and stick it in your food processor or go out and purchase one of the many prepackaged brands of cauliflower rice on the market. It’s low in carbs, low in salt and works in pretty much any recipe calling for rice. Or enjoy it as a delicious side dish with a tiny dollop of avocado butter.
- Kale chips instead of potato chips
Potato chips are loaded with salt and high in carbohydrates. Kale chips, on the other hand, are rich in antioxidants, Vitamin C and Vitamin K. Plus, they’re super easy to make. In fact, here’s a quick recipe. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Tear your kale into chip-sized pieces and place them on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil. Bake for about 10 minutes and you’ve got yourself some deliciously fresh and healthy kale chips.
- Replace colas with flavored sparkling water
Swap out those high-sugar sodas for an even more refreshing treat - sparkling water. You’ll find plenty of brands on the market these days sweetened with just a hint of lemon, orange, or natural berry flavors. Better yet, make your own soda treat by adding fresh berries to unflavored sparkling water. Either way, you’ll enjoy great taste without all those excess calories, sugars, or artificial sweeteners.
Why go without when you can switch it up?
Living with diabetes requires you to make some healthy lifestyle and dietary choices. However, this doesn’t mean you have to go without great food. Instead, you just must be willing to switch things up a bit. Healthy food substitutions like those listed here can help you maintain greater control over your diabetes and avoid dangerous spikes in blood glucose levels.
We hope you found these simple food swaps helpful. Remember, before making any changes to your diabetes health and treatment plan, including food substitutions, it’s important to consult with your diabetes physician and care team.
A healthy diet is an important factor in managing blood glucose levels and controlling diabetes. So is following your doctor-prescribed diabetes treatment plan. At Diabeticteststrips.org, we offer an huge online selection of glucose meters, test strips and lancets, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems, and infusion sets by leading manufacturers, such as Accu-Chek, OneTouch, FreeStyle, DexCom, Easy Comfort, TRUE METRIX and others. You’ll save up to 65% off pharmacy prices and we provide free delivery to your home or office.
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