Carbs aren’t the villain they’re made out to be. In fact, they can be nutritious and super healthy options even when you are diabetic or overweight – you’ve just got to know which ones to pick. According to the US Centers for Disease Control, on average, someone with diabetes can get 45% of their daily calories from carbs, so chin up!
The Devil Is In The Details
Your body converts the carbs you consume into sugars which cause blood glucose to rise. But not all carbs are created alike. Good carbs from vegetables, peas, or lentils can provide you with vital nutrients and fiber too, so they certainly shouldn’t be eliminated. But carbs or sugars in sodas and candy aren’t great.
The key to getting it right? Finding a balance so your insulin levels stay steady while the carbs give you the energy and nutrients your body needs.
Know Your Carbs: What To Eat and What To Avoid
Complex Carbohydrates are actually pretty good for you in moderation. They release glucose into your bloodstream at a slow and steady rate. Many complex carbs, in addition to being fiber-rich, are also a great source of other nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Because they are slow to digest, they work for anyone trying to lose weight, too. That is, they keep you full longer, plus you eat less because they’re filling!
Often dubbed “alternatives grains” or “ancient grains,” these are grains many Indians have grown up eating – bajra, jowar, ragi, dalia, amaranth. Use them in rotis and dosas or idlis, buy bread made from them or multigrain flours that contain them. The variety of flavors of these grains and their great texture will actually make mealtimes more interesting!
Fiber-rich wild rice or black rice is a good option for rice eaters. Brown rice is another option, though not as fiber rich. They taste great in salads but you can also enjoy them in pulavs, biryanis, and even with daal and sabzi!
Refined Carbohydrates: Not all complex carbs are good – and that’s where the blanket “avoid carbs” advice stems from. Cut back on refined carbs. Heavily processed and stripped of their nutrients, these are often a waste of precious calories. Plus, they are often digested quicker than whole grain foods that are less processed and have more fiber.
You’ll find them in white rice, white pasta, regular noodles, instant noodles, white bread, and other maida-based products. Also found in mass-produced cookies, cakes, and baked goods.
Simple Carbohydrates: Simple carbs or simple sugars aren’t all bad. Of course, because your body burns through sugar fast, it is important to balance it with some fiber or protein like seeds, nuts, or yogurt to slow digestion and keep you feeling full longer.
Fruits contain simple carbs but are a wonderful source of nutrition, in moderation. As someone with diabetes, stick to fruits that are lower in sugar content or have a low glycemic load – like oranges and apples. Have these in small amounts as part of a balanced diet.
Avoid the empty calories of simple sugars from colas, sodas, candy, and junk food. Your body burns through them super fast, leaving you hungry and with sugar highs and lows that spell disaster for someone trying to manage diabetes.
Curious about other tweaks to your diet that can help you stay on top of diabetes? Find out more here.