Healthy Low-Carb Eating with Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that has reached epidemic proportions.
Although diabetes is a complicated disease, maintaining good blood sugar control can greatly reduce the risk of complications.

One of the ways to achieve better blood sugar levels is to follow a low-carb diet. If you have diabetes, your body cannot process carbohydrates effectively. In healthy people, blood sugar levels remain within a narrow range throughout the day. In diabetes this system doesn’t work the way it is supposed to. This is a big problem, because having both too high and too low blood sugar levels can cause severe harm.

Of the three nutrients — protein, carbs and fat — carbs have the greatest impact on blood sugar control. This is because the body breaks them down into glucose. Therefore, diabetics may need to take large dosages of insulin and/or diabetes medication when they eat a lot of carbohydrates. Many studies support low-carb diets for the treatment of diabetes.

What’s more, low-carb diets seem to work well in the long term, as long as patients adhere to the diet.

The optimal amount of carbs may also vary by individual, since everyone has a unique response to carbs. To figure out your ideal amount, you may want to measure your blood glucose with a meter before a meal and again 1 to 2 hours after eating.

Just remember that the general rule is the less carbs you eat, the less your blood sugar will rise.

And, rather than eliminating all carbs, a healthy low-carb diet should include nutrient-dense, high-fiber carb sources like vegetables, berries, nuts and seeds.

The following foods can be eaten in smaller quantities at meals, depending on your personal carb tolerance.

  • Berries: 1 cup or less.
  • Plain, Greek yogurt: 1 cup or less.
  • Cottage cheese: 1/2 cup or less.
  • Nuts and peanuts: 1–2 oz or 30–60 grams.
  • Flaxseeds or chia seeds: 2 tablespoons.
  • Dark chocolate (at least 85% cocoa): 30 grams or less.
  • Winter squash (butternut, acorn, pumpkin, spaghetti and hubbard): 1 cup or less.
  • Liquor: 1.5 oz or 50 grams.
  • Dry red or white wine: 4 oz or 120 grams.

These foods are high in carbohydrates and can significantly raise blood sugar levels in diabetics:

  • Bread, pasta, cereal, corn and other grains.
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams and taro.
  • Legumes, such as peas, lentils and beans (except green beans and snow peas).
  • Milk.
  • Fruit other than berries.
  • Juice, soda, punch, sweetened tea, etc.
  • Beer.
  • Desserts, baked goods, candy, ice cream, etc.


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