Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Foods to Satisfy your Sweet Tooth

People with diabetes or insulin resistance and others with various health issues are told to follow a "diabetic diet". Really there is no such thing. Most people think a diabetic diet just means no sugar. Most diabetes dietitians recommend counting carbohydrates (carbs), while others think the glycemic index is a more valuable tool. Then there's counting calories and sugar grams if your watching your weight. It's all very confusing. 

First of all, lets define some terms. All food raises your blood sugar but carbs affect it more than fat and protein. All types of foods can have carbs not just sugary or starchy food.  The problem is there is no set recommendation for the number of carbs to consume per meal because that value is personal to each individual. It can vary depending on how well managed your diabetes is, your activity level, or medications you are taking. Even then the way your body reacts to carbs can change from day to day. 

The glycemic index measures how much carbohydrate containing foods affect your blood sugar. Pure glucose would have a GI of 100 and other foods would measure less. High glycemic foods have a GI of 70 or more, Medium GI 56-70, Low GI 0-55. Typically the more processed and prepared a food is the higher the GI, but this isn't always true. Things that can affect the GI of a food are its ripeness (the riper the higher the GI usually), how much it is processed (juice has higher GI than fruit), cooking time (al dente pasta has lower GI than soft pasta), and variety (stone ground oatmeal lower GI than instant). If you look at a chart of low to high glycemic index foods you might notice the low GI foods are mostly natural, whole foods and most of the high GI foods are packaged, processed foods. Again, there are exceptions, like watermelon listed as a high GI food over low-fat yogurt with sugar which is a low GI food. The glycemic index also doesn't say anything about portion size or the quality of the food. Many nutritious foods such as oatmeal, for example, have a higher GI than empty calorie foods like chocolate which has a lower GI rating. 

Are you totally confused and frustrated? Join the crowd. So what's the answer. BALANCE! Being diabetic or insulin resistant doesn't mean no sugar ever again. It means no sugar by itself - you have to balance it with protein and fiber.  Instead of coffee and donuts for breakfast have a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese. Most people can handle balancing healthful foods with a little bit of high carb or GI foods at a meal, its snack time that really hurts. What do you do at 10am and 3pm when you're between meals and you just need a little pick me up. That's when you don't want to take the time (or make the mess) to prepare a healthful snack and your tempted to grab a snickers bar or one of the kids cookies. The problem then is that those sweet snacks often contain not only tons of sugar, but also high fat and low fiber and low nutrients. Plan ahead. 

First pretend your Gillian and go through your kitchen throwing out all the empty calorie, high fat, high sugar, you know its not good for you or anyone else kind of food. Don't feel like your punishing the rest of your family, you're actually saving them from a life addicted to disease and obesity causing foods. Then replace all those tempting treats with healthier options. 

Become a label reader. Look for foods that are high in calcium, vitamins and iron and low in fat, cholesterol and sodium. Also look to see if the TOTAL carbs (which is a combo of fiber, sugar, and starch -which isn't listed on the label) is close in number to the amount of protein. In other words, is it balanced? For example, a 6 oz cup of Chobani Greek Yogurt, blueberry non-fat has 20g of Total Carbs and 14g of Protein. Pretty close and when you look further to see that it has 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, and 20% DV of calcium you can see this is a healthy choice. Fiber actually has a positive effect on blood glucose by slowing its absorption. So you can subtract the number of fiber from the grams of total carbohydrate to get the effective or impact carb number (which is the part that affects your blood sugar). Look at the ingredients list to see if there are any types of sugars or sugar alcohols in the first 5 ingredients. Also watch out for highly processed foods that contain things like "hydrogenated oils" or "enriched" flours. Opt for things that say 100% whole grain instead. Dr. Oz has a great video series on decoding food labels. 

Most of all people who need to monitor blood glucose levels want to keep a steady wave of rises and falls instead of sharp spikes of high blood sugar and low. To do this you have to balance out the quality of the foods you eat by watching the total carb content and paying attention to what kind of carbs (high fiber vs. high sugar) you consume. 

So the question still remains, what do you do to satisfy your sweet tooth between or after meals. How can you stay on track when everyone else around you is eating cake and ice cream after dinner and you can't but you still want a taste of something sweet. Here are some foods that can help curb that craving healthfully. 

  1. Any kind of whole raw fruit
  2. Peanut Butter (1-2 Tbs)
  3. Dark Chocolate
  4. Greek Yogurt
  5. Sugar-Free Pudding {try it frozen like a fudge pop}
  6. Sugar-Free Jello {try making homemade fruit snacks for a chewy treat}
  7. Whole grain graham crackers with cinnamon {cinnamon helps lower blood sugar}
  8. Raw or lightly roasted nuts {even the cocoa roast almonds are low sugar & high protein & fiber}
  9. Granola (whole grains, nuts, dried fruit, dark chocolate chips)
  10. Fruit sorbet (frozen puree fruit w/ no added sugar needed)
  11. Smoothie (fresh or frozen fruit, ice, water, protein powder blended till smooth)
  12. String cheese {not sweet but a healthy snack nonetheless}
  13. Pistacios {they have the highest amount of cholesterol lowering phytosterols and because you have to remove the shell you don't eat as many}
  14. Soy beans {raw, steamed, or stir-fried yum}
  15. Veggies with Guacamole or Hummus
  16. Celery or carrots with herb flavored cream cheese
  17. Sunflower seeds
  18. Joy Bauer's sugar free dessert recipes
  19. Try combining two from the list like apples + peanut butter, oranges + almonds, yogurt + granola.
  20. Chew sugar free gum to help curb the temptation to graze munchies all day.

No comments:

Post a Comment