The convenience of these grab-and-go options is undeniable, but are they wise choices?
By Everyday Health : http://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes...
More and more nutrition bars, nutrition shakes, and other convenience foods labeled for people with diabetes are turning up in grocery store aisles. Some of these quick and easy foods even claim they’ll help you to be more successful in managing your type 2 diabetes.
But just because they may be marketed for those with diabetes doesn’t necessarily mean these nutrition bars and nutrition shakes are good for you or worth their cost.
You have to know what ingredients to look for, says registered dietitian Nora Saul, RD, a certified diabetes educator at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. Before you go out and buy a jumbo-sized pack, read the label to learn what's inside those nutrition bars and nutrition shakes.
Finding the Better Nutrition Bars and Shakes
Ingredients do vary between products. Some of the nutrition bars and nutrition shakes made for people with diabetes may contain specific ingredients that can make them a good choice.
"There are certain bars that have resistant starch or uncooked cornstarch in them," says Saul. The presence of these starches can help prevent overnight low blood sugars as well as very high blood sugar levels because of how the body breaks them down. "Resistant starch and uncooked starch are digested very slowly," notes Saul. That means that they raise blood glucose levels very slowly, preventing a big spike.
Other nutrition bars and shakes may have valuable vitamins and nutrients and be perfectly fine for people with diabetes, says Saul. But while they are acceptable choices, "there's nothing magical about them," she explains, and they don't provide an easy fix for type 2 diabetes management.
How to Use Nutrition Shakes and Bars
If you like the taste, can afford the price, and enjoy the convenience of a safe and healthy snack, there's no reason why you can't keep a supply of nutrition bars and shakes on hand for times you need to eat in a pinch. But they aren't a good option when your blood sugar is dropping and you need to bring it back up, since they're designed to do so slowly.
Also remember not to overdo it on these prepackaged foods and don't use them as an easy way out if you want to avoid planning a healthy meal. "They're fine for a snack," says Saul, but she suggests that there are many other foods that are less expensive and also make a great snack, starting with fresh fruits and vegetables — all delicious, easy, and healthy choices.
If you do want to buy some of these nutrition shakes and bars especially designed for people with diabetes, Saul offers important buying guidelines:
Look for nutrition bars and nutrition shakes that contain protein and fiber.
Choose nutrition bars that are low in fat, with no more than 5 to 7 grams, and make sure those are mostly monounsaturated fats.
Check their vitamin and mineral content — some bars contain essential nutrients like folate and calcium, which is a bonus.
It may be a good idea to check your blood sugar about two hours after eating one of these bars or drinking a shake to get an idea of the effect it has on you.
Saul's main advice regarding these convenience foods is that they shouldn't be a staple of the diabetic diet, and you shouldn't plan on regularly having a nutrition bar or nutrition shake in place of a well-balanced meal. "They shouldn't replace healthy meals," she cautions. "If somebody skips breakfast sometimes, having one of these bars is fine," but she adds, keep in mind that the foods don't really teach you how to eat.
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