While it is true that blood sugar is influenced most heavily by carbohydrates compared to protein and fat, your “macros” (or the percentage of protein, carbohydrates, and fat that you need) is unique to you and depends on your genetics, your health history, and your activity levels. Carbohydrates are a necessary part of a healthy diet. So, how do we get enough carbohydrates without driving up blood sugar levels?
- Spread out your carbohydrates across the day.
The amount of carbohydrates that you need and how frequently you need them is determined by many factors, including your resting metabolic rate, your activity levels, and the type of activity that you like to do. A dietitian can look at your needs as a whole and help give you a range that is right for you.
- Choose carbs that have a low glycemic index most of the time.
Generally, a glycemic index less than 55 indicates that the food will cause a slower and lower rise in blood glucose. For example, apples have a glycemic index of 40 while bananas have a glycemic index of 70. This means that an apple will not spike your blood sugar as much as a banana.
- If you eat a higher glycemic index food, try to pair it with fat, protein, or fiber to slow down digestion.
For example, take the banana with a glycemic index of 70. Can you pair it with peanut butter (fat and protein) or a vegetable and cheese omelet (fat, protein, and fiber)?
- You can eat dessert in moderation, you just need to account for it.
It is especially important to take note of the amount of carbs in each meal and snack if you are taking insulin. Remember to account for portion sizes, so if you eat 1 cup of ice cream instead of a ½ cup serving size, you will need to double the number of carbohydrates.
- Take insulin if your doctor prescribes it.
Scientific advancements have made it much easier to monitor your blood sugar, making it easier to know when and how much insulin you need. Insulin is what helps carbohydrates leave the blood stream and move into the cells where they can be used for energy. The truth is that both forms of diabetes are progressive, and taking insulin is a good thing that you can do to help your body use carbohydrates for energy!
Rest assured that you can still enjoy your favorite foods. Talking with a dietitian, especially one who is also a Certified Diabetes Educator, can make following these steps much easier. Visit the TNT Wellness Program page for more information.