Jenilee Matz has a master’s degree in public health and worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a health communications specialist. She writes for several health publications including Everyday Health, HealthDay, and Diabetic Connect.
For people with diabetes, good nutrition means a diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean sources of protein, and low-fat or nonfat dairy. For the most part, you’ll need to avoid foods high in saturated and trans fats, sodium and sugar, as well as your carbohydrate intake. Your doctor or registered dietitian will let you know how many carbs you can eat per day.
Take heart: this doesn’t mean you can never enjoy some of your favorite foods again. There are ways to eat fewer carbs without sacrificing taste. Try these lower-carb alternatives:
1. If you love pasta, try spaghetti squash.
Next time you make spaghetti with marinara sauce, skip the pasta aisle and head to the produce section to buy spaghetti squash. Bake the squash at 375 degrees for one hour. After it cools, cut it in half, remove the seeds, and pull a fork through the flesh to remove long, spaghetti-like strands. Use the strands as the base of your dish instead of pasta, and you’ll slash the carb count.
This Spaghetti Squash Carbonara is a fun spin on a traditional pasta dish.
2. If you love mashed potatoes, try mashed cauliflower.
Cauliflower contains fewer carbs than starchy white potatoes. Prepare mashed cauliflower the same way you would mashed potatoes. Chances are, you’ll enjoy this lighter side dish as much as the original. Just remember to go easy on the butter and milk.
You won't miss your potatoes once you try this Cheesy Cauli Mash.
3. If you love flour, try almond flour or flaxseed meal.
Flours are big-time carb-offenders. One hundred percent whole wheat flour is healthier than white or all-purpose flour, but it’s still high in carbs. Instead, use almond flour or flaxseed meal — these products are ground up nuts and seeds that resemble a flour consistency. When baking muffins or making pizza dough, for instance, swap out half of the flour and use the nut- or seed-based flour in its place.
Try these tasty Almond Muffins for a grab-and-go breakfast.
4. If you love rice, try quinoa.
Quinoa is an ancient, pseudo-grain that’s high in fiber, protein and other nutrients. Cooked quinoa can be used in soups or as a side dish in place of rice, or doctor quinoa up with vegetables, nuts, and cheese and use it as a main course, since it’s so high in protein.
It's easy to get creative with quinoa, like with this Quinoa Enchilada Bake that can be made in your slow cooker.
5. If you love ice cream, try banana soft serve
If you thought your days of indulging in frozen treats were behind you, think again. Peel and freeze a banana. Once frozen, place the banana and a couple tablespoons of milk into a food processer and blend until smooth. Voila! Now you have banana soft serve “ice cream.” Note that bananas are high in carbs, so enjoy this treat in moderation.
Make this Banana Frozen Yogurt for a cold treat.
Read nutrition facts labels before you buy low-carb versions of bread, noodles and other foods. These products can be loaded with artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners won’t impact your blood sugar levels, but they can lead to sugar cravings and stomach discomfort.