Diabetic Food Swaps to Try
Diabetes is not a life sentence to boring and unappetizing food. When I was first diagnosed, I was so worried about all the foods I COULDN’T eat that it was hard to think about all the great foods I COULD eat. In time, I grew to be more creative in my thinking and I am very rarely unsatisfied with what I eat these days.
Everyone’s heard of “life hacks,” right? What I figured out is that you have to have “food hacks” for all your favorite foods and eating events.
If you have a plan and something yummy to look forward to, you won’t feel like you are missing out so much. Let’s take it course by course and I’ll share my food hacks with you.
When it comes to appetizers, there are so many yummy things out there, it can be overwhelming. But, alas, you CAN do this.
My favorite appetizer is any kind of dip. Most appetizer dips are low/no carb but can be relatively high in fat.
When going to an event, I always ask if there will be a vegetable tray and if not, I volunteer to bring one. This is perfect because you can then sample on any of the dips without guilt by using the veggies instead of high-carb nachos, crackers, or chips.
Cucumbers make easy chip substitutes and celery is always good because it’s natural grooves keep the dip in. You can also be on the lookout for cheese and pepperoni or salami/cream cheese rollups. These are also no-carb snacks that are perfect for diabetics.
And, if you just HAVE to have some potato chips or nachos, remember that moderation is the key. Maybe have a few of those to satisfy your craving and then move to the more diabetic-friendly treats.
Lettuce salads are usually a safe bet. Just beware of any fruit additives, crouton overdoses, or sugary salad dressings. The carbs can add up quickly if you aren’t careful. Usually, vinegar- and oil-based dressings are the lowest in carbohydrates.
If the main dish is a meat, pork, chicken, or fish entree, you are probably fairly safe. Just beware of sugary condiments/sauces.
However, if the main entree includes pasta or rice, things get a little trickier. One two-ounce serving is 35 carbs — that is two servings of carbs. Most diabetics are only allowed a maximum of four servings at one sitting so this means your meal plan will need to be very smart.
When eating at home or the homes of close friends and family, I purchase a vegetable spiralizer and make zucchini noodles to replace the pasta. One zucchini is about enough for a big bowl of zoodles. All you have to do is nuke it in the microwave for about a minute and you are ready to go.
By making this simple substitution, I am then able to use my carbs for bread to go with my meal or for dessert. For rice, one-half cup equals 38 carbs. That’s not a lot of rice and it’s right at two servings. Sometimes the zoodles can work well in place of rice but if not, I try to take less rice and more of what goes over the rice if it is low carb. If rice or pasta is served as a side dish, be sure to fill up on the protein, salad, or veggie offerings instead.
Low-carb vegetables are easy choices. My family is especially fond of any veggies sautéed in olive oil with a little balsamic or soy sauce added in. Grilling them also provides a nice taste.
Remember, corn on the cob and baked potatoes count as carbs, not free vegetables. And, the carb counts are high on them.
Try to avoid sugary sauce-covered veggies. Again, when in doubt, volunteer to bring something to share that you know will be fine for you to eat.