American Diabetes Month: Improve Blood Sugar Control with Meals Balanced in Whole Grains, Lean Proteins, and Heart Healthy Fats
November is American Diabetes Month; a time dedicated to the education and awareness of a condition that affects millions of Americans. In the past, diabetic diets were very restrictive and focused on eliminating sugar to control blood sugar (glucose) levels. However, we now know that all foods fit and balancing carbohydrates, protein, and fats in daily meals and snacks is key to preventing spikes and sudden drops in glucose. A flavorful meal balanced in proteins, carbs, and fats, is the perfect way to promote steady energy and proper diabetes management.
Begin to build your meal with a base of fueling carbohydrates. The fiber found in whole grains including brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, and oats promote steady energy. As compared to refined grains like white rice, pasta, and bread which have been stripped of their fiber, vitamins, and minerals, whole grains are more slowly digested and gradually increase glucose levels. Skip the sugar crash and choose to make half your grains whole. Additionally, legumes such as beans and lentils are a high fiber alternative to whole grains. Packed with iron and plant powered protein, legumes can be featured in a variety of bowls from Mediterranean to Indian inspired.
Add protein to the carbohydrate source and begin to balance out the meal. Protein, aside from maintaining muscle mass and other structures in the body, promotes satiety and does not cause sudden spikes in blood sugar. When choosing a source of protein opt for lean choices, or those that are high in heart healthy fats. Simply prepared chicken breast, turkey, and lean cuts of beef (anything with loin or round in their name) are a carnivore’s top choices. Fish such as shrimp, tuna, or salmon are protein powerhouses and don’t forget plant sources including soy products such as tofu and tempeh or legumes and nuts.
Finally, fats add filling flavor to your balanced meal. Pick plant sources of fats that have been found to have positive impacts on heart health Top with olive oil or creamy avocado slices. Sprinkle chia seeds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds to add crunch and a dose of heart healthy Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Fatty fish including tuna, salmon, and sardines are also rich sources of Omega 3.
Don’t forget to add color, vitamins, minerals, and additional fiber by mixing in brightly colored vegetables and fruits.