Cooking for diabetes never tasted so good…and the whole family will benefit from healthier eating.
by Rob Fischer
Contrary to popular opinion, eating diabetes-friendly foods does not consign you to a life of bland, boring meals. Instead, let’s look at how you can win with both good nutrition and great tastes for the whole family.
If you do suffer with type 2 diabetes, by eating diabetes-friendly foods you can control your blood sugar levels and even reverse your type 2 diabetes! And even if you’re not a type 2 diabetes sufferer, here are some compelling reasons for eating as though you were.
5 Great Reasons You Should Eat Diabetes-Friendly Foods
- You may have type 2 diabetes and not know it! According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 4 people with type 2 diabetes don’t know they have the disease. And chances are even greater that you have prediabetes and don’t know it.
- You may be genetically prone to type 2 diabetes. If you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, you’re at greater risk for contracting the disease.
- Eating diabetes-friendly foods is healthier for you. Even if you never get type 2 diabetes, eating a diet prescribed for those with the disease can improve your health and help you stave off other chronic illnesses like: cancers, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and more.
- You’re helping those with diabetes eat right. Imagine how hard it would be for someone with diabetes to eat the right foods if they look over at your plate and feel deprived because of what you’re eating! Give them a break and improve your own health at the same time.
- You’re teaching your kids and grandkids how to eat right. You have tremendous influence on your kids and/or grandchildren. By modeling how to eat right, they will follow your example and enjoy a healthier life.
One More Major Obstacle to Topple
Before we continue, we’ve got one more major stumbling block to remove. Many people, whether they have type 2 diabetes or not, think that their shopping choices are limited to that “special” small aisle in the grocery store reserved for diabetic foods.
But allow me to let you in on a little secret: you don’t even have to visit that “special” aisle! Instead, you can shop the whole store and find countless items that are good for you whether you have type 2 diabetes or not.
Now that we have those issues settled, let’s get on to the good stuff—the food!
What You Can Eat
I’m going to assume that the grocery stores where you live are similar to those where I live. So, let’s take a little tour, but we’re going to stay primarily on the perimeter of the store. There we find:
- All kinds of delicious fresh vegetables: bell peppers, asparagus, cucumbers, carrots, onions, garlic, celery, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, snap peas, spinach, kale, beets, artichokes, yams, squash, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, fresh herbs, etc.—you get the picture!
- An amazing assortment of organic dairy products: milk, half-n-half, whipping cream, butter, all manner of cheeses, cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurt, and so forth! All in many different forms and flavors.
- A vast array of meats and seafood: beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, duck, Cornish hens, tuna, salmon, tilapia, cod, halibut, shellfish, shrimp, sausages, salami, jerky, pepperoni, bacon, and more!
- A wonderful selection of fresh fruits: apples of all kinds, oranges, tangerines, nectarines, peaches, star fruit, bananas, grapefruit, white and red grapes, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, and other exotic fruits from around the world!
- A wide variety of nuts and seeds: cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, hazel nuts, pistachios, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, poppy seeds, chia seeds and more!
All of these foods are diabetes-friendly foods. But wait, there’s more. In the middle of the store, if you know where to look, you’ll find some other great diabetes-friendly foods. Some of these include:
- Oatmeal and other whole grains
- Whole grain breads and pastas
- Brown and wild rice
- All kinds of frozen fruits and vegetables
- Dried and canned legumes of all kinds
- Canned organic tomatoes and other veggies
- Pickles, pickled beets, pickled artichokes, pickled asparagus, etc.
- Dark chocolate (yes, in moderation it’s very good for you!)
- And too many other items to list here!
Tip: always read the labels when buying food in a box, bag, can or jar. Avoid anything with additives, preservatives, sugars, corn syrup, or other sweeteners.
As you can see, the choices are huge and when you start thinking about all the ways you can combine those various items in a recipe or meal, the options are endless. So, what is it that you shouldn’t eat?
The following foods are not diabetes-friendly because they spike your blood sugar, make you gain weight, and pose a host of other health problems.
- Processed foods: breakfast cereals, pizza, many ready-to-eat meals, boxed entrees, canned meals, and the like.
- White carbohydrates: white bread, rolls, white rice, pasta, etc.
- Sweets: cakes, donuts, muffins, scones, candy, etc.
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners: yes, artificial sweeteners also spike your blood sugar and many have nasty side effects.
- Sugary or sweet drinks. This includes fruit juices, soda pop (even diet), and sweet coffee beverages. Because these are in liquid form they enter your bloodstream much more rapidly, spiking your blood sugar.
Notice that while I haven’t listed everything under the “Non-Diabetes-Friendly” category, this list is much shorter than the “good” list. And many of the processed foods like pizza you can learn to make yourself from ingredients that aren’t bad for you.
Other Basic Eating Tips
Here are some other eating tips that will help you eat diabetes-friendly:
- Reduce your intake of carbs! If you do nothing else, do this. An over-abundance of carbohydrates is what make our cells insulin resistant. So cut back on carbs in general. Our Diabetes Solution Kit shows you exactly how to do this.
- Get plenty of fiber! When you eat a carbohydrate that has lots of fiber in it, like a sweet potato, the fiber slows down the sugar that’s released into your system, helping stabilize your blood sugar. That’s why whole grain foods are healthier, because they contain lots of fiber. Note: nutrition labels include the fiber count in the carb count. But you can’t digest fiber, so in figuring total carb count, subtract the fiber grams from the carbohydrate grams.
- Eat a protein with a carb. When you eat a protein with a carb it also slows the way sugar is released into your bloodstream.
- Boil, broil, grill, or bake your food. There are two problems with frying: one is that fried food is often breaded, adding carbs. The other problem is that food is often fried in oil that is saturated fat and/or trans-fat, neither of which are good for you. If you must fry something, use a mono-unsaturated fat like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, or peanut oil.
- Stick to whole foods. Whole foods are those that are not processed. It’s hard to go wrong when you eat a food the way God made it! Just eat it in moderation!
- Practice portion control. Consciously scale down the amount of food you put on your plate. Also, take note of the individual food items and eat fewer carbs. Resist going back for seconds.
More Info on Low Carbs
As stated above, the amount of carbs you eat has the most profound impact on your blood sugar levels. By controlling your carbs, you control your blood sugar. Everyone is different, so there’s no standardized carb count that applies to everyone. However, keeping your carbs to 20 percent or below of your daily calorie intake has been shown to produce effective results. This equates to 70-90 grams of total carbs.
If you’re testing your blood sugar regularly, it’s easy enough to determine what your personal carb count needs to be to keep your blood sugar down. If you have type 2 diabetes and you want to reverse it, you can do so by following a stricter regimen on carbs. For more information on how to get total control of your blood sugar by reducing carbs, check out our Diabetes Solution Kit. Remember, fruit, vegetables, nuts, berries and whole grains all contain high fiber and are therefore the best kinds of carbs to eat. Below is a sample of diabetes-friendly meals you might eat in a day.
Sample Menu for a Day for the Entire Family
- 2 eggs cooked in Kerry Gold butter (1 gram of carbs)
- 1 slice buttered whole wheat toast with ½ Tablespoon Simply Fruit Strawberry jam (16 grams of carbs)
- Coffee or tea with or without cream (0 grams of carbs)
Total carb count: 17 grams
- A large apple (14 grams of carbs)
- ¼ cup mixed, dry-roasted nuts (6 grams of carbs)
- 4 oz. cottage cheese (4 grams of carbs)
- 3 oz. baby carrots (6 grams of carbs)
Total carb count: 30 grams
- 6 oz. roast chicken (0 grams of carbs)
- ½ cup steamed asparagus (2 grams of carbs)
- 4 oz. baked (or microwaved) sweet potato with Kerry Gold butter, salt and pepper (20 grams of carbs)
- 1 cup romaine lettuce salad with oil and vinegar dressing (1 gram carbs)
Total carb count: 23 grams
Total carb count for the day: 70 grams
In our Diabetes Solution Kit we offer a large selection of low-carb meals and recipes! There are also a number of websites that offer countless low-carb recipes that are diabetes-friendly. AllRecipes.com is one such site.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 – 16 oz. jar of mild Pace Picante Sauce
- 1 cup brown rice
- Place chicken breasts in a crockpot and pour the whole jar of Pace Picante Sauce over them. Turn crockpot on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours. (Tip: you can make this ahead of time and reheat if you like.)
- When you’re ready to eat, cook 1 cup brown rice according to package instructions.
- When rice is done, serve Pace Picante chicken over a bed of rice.
- Add a side vegetable or salad to enhance the meal.
Grilled Pork Chops
We just had this a few nights ago and it’s really good! Of course you can substitute other vegetables for those listed. Serves 4.
- 4 pork chops of a size and thickness desired
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 2 Tbls Kerry Gold butter
- 2 medium yams
- 1 lb. petite green beans
Directions (pork chops, yams and green beans cooked separately)
- Mix the balsamic vinegar with the minced garlic and marinade the pork chops for 30 min.
- Meanwhile, wash petite green beans and place in a large skillet with ½ cup water and 2 Tbls. butter. Cook covered over medium heat until they reach desired texture.
- Grill pork chops about 5 min. per side or until done to liking.
- While pork chops are grilling place whole yams in microwave and cook on high for 5 min. Check with a fork to determine tenderness. Continue cooking until the fork goes in easy, then cut yams lengthwise in half, yielding 4 halves. Top with butter, salt and pepper.
- If chops are done early, tent under aluminum foil on a platter.
As you can see by the ingredients and manner of cooking, diabetes-friendly meals are not only good for you they taste amazing too! Why not begin the New Year on the right foot and establish a pattern of eating diabetes-friendly. You can get and keep your blood sugar in check and live healthier!
Eat to beat diabetes! The Diabetes Solution Kit is the life-changing diet that can help you avoid or even reverse type 2 diabetes. And the best part? It’s the tasty way to get back to health!
Rob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes ghostwriting, creating curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, and training courses. He has written over a dozen books and serves as an editor for a nationally known copywriter.