Guy eating a salad at the tableI recently visited with my Dad whom I have not seen for about a year. I was working in the area, so it worked out well to stay with him. He shared some news that came as a  big surprise to me, knowing our family history: the D word. Diabetes. Although it runs in my family, most of the cases were diet related. I mentioned that a cooking show host, Paula Deen, AKA “the butter queen” was also recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.  She happens to be in the news right now, so my Dad recognized the name right away after seeing her on CNN, the station that is rarely changed from his flat screen. This led to conversations about carbohydrate grams, and I assumed he would be heading right to dietitian for help. Nope. He informed me he was in the process of studying up first and had many books around to show for it. Although I was pleased that he was taking so much initiative, I realized that he was cheating himself out of foods that he could eat, and in quantities that allowed for his needed weight loss as well as blood sugar management. I picked up one of the books he had laying around and actually picked up a few tips.  Now I understand why the diabetic diet is also an ideal weight loss diet.  Here is what I learned:

1.  If you are diabetic, 40% of your calories should come from carbohydrates.  So, if you are eating 1600 calories for weight loss or management, that would be 640 calories for the day.

2.  Carbohydrates are measured in grams.  Gram “allowances” are determined for your age, weight, and sex, and should be fairly even in number for all 3 main meals.  This keeps the blood sugar more evenly stable. So, if you are a woman, your gram count is going to be somewhere between 30-45 carb grams per meal.

3. A fistful is the best rule of thumb. A complex carbohydrate like pasta can rack up the gram count quick!  While looking at all the pasta dishes I had just bought, I realized that eating the equivalent of pasta to the size of my fist would likely keep someone within their gram count.  Also a good portion control for dieting.

4.  Pay attention to that glycemic index. For diabetics, this is a very useful measure of the foods they eat.  Why?  Because a  glycemic index indicates how quickly a particular food will raise the blood sugar.  The lower the index, the slower that food will raise the blood sugar.

5.  Avoid the simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are your sugars such as fructose, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc.  Diabetics have to watch the simple carbs carefully, but I did learn that sweeteners such as stevia (glycemic index is “0”) and light agave (glycemic index is between 15-30) are the best natural sweetener alternatives to cane sugar and fructose.

6.  There are foods that actually help lower blood sugar.  Cinnamon is such a food.  What? I love that! A number of places such as Costco even carry cinnamon in a pill. Other foods that can be helpful are  lima beans, rolled oats, almond butter, grapefruit and spinach.

Disclaimer: As with everything you read here on Hey Good Cookin’, we are expressing opinions and thoughts and not giving advice.  See your doctor, nutritionist or diabetic counselor to manage your diabetes or pre-diabetic condition.  

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