A diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes means you should be mindful of what you eat and how different foods affect your blood sugars at all times. Enjoying some of our favorite foods can be more challenging when we have to factor in the impact on blood sugars. People who are insulin-dependent have to be very precise about their insulin dose and timing. Others rely on oral medication and high blood sugar may take hours to come back down, if diet is not considered. With that said, you can still enjoy some of your favorites thanks to so many new healthier options available both to make at home and in stores.
Here are my top 5 low-carb replacements for high-carb favorites:
1. Edamame Pasta
If you told me pre-diagnosis that I would be trying substitutes for pasta such as zucchini, black bean and edamame pasta, I would not have believed you. Yet here I am, more than six years later, having never touched real pasta once after finding these delicious substitutions. My favorite is edamame linguini, I find the taste and texture to be most similar to the real deal. I add in some ground beef, turkey or some grilled shrimp and the result is a protein-packed, low-carb and filling meal without having to worry about blood sugar spikes.
2. Mashed Cauliflower
Who doesn’t love to indulge in comfort food? One cup of mashed potatoes is 35 g of carbs and has a little over 200 calories. With most people also adding butter, cheese, and other toppings, this can result in a “perfect storm” of high-carbs and high-fat that is very tricky to bolus for and can lead to stubbornly high blood sugar levels. Stubborn highs can make you more insulin resistant, so for those on insulin, you may require more than your usual dose to bring it down. For those who aren’t on insulin and rely on exercise to bring down blood sugar spikes, you may have a harder time getting your blood sugars back in range. The good news is not only can you make this yourself but you can now find it in many freezer aisles as well.
3. Chicken Crust Pizza
This one is a best-kept secret among keto lovers! I have seen so many recipes for low-carb pizza circulate through the diabetes online community and I have tried several. I enjoyed the “fathead” recipe (many variations exist online) but found it very high-calorie and filling. I found the cauliflower options to be very grainy and not the texture I am used to when it comes to pizza dough. But using ground chicken meat as your pizza “dough” actually has the right consistency and also gives you upwards of an extra 20+ grams of protein per slice making this delicious option my top choice!
4. Protein-Packed Low-Carb Ice Cream
I miss the days where I could sit down with a bowl of ice cream and watch mindless TV while I mindlessly ate. Now, while I am sure I could still do that, albeit tricky when it comes to blood sugars and wanting to fit into last summer’s favorite jeans, I choose not to. There are so many alternatives that taste just as creamy and delicious and don’t contain a ton of calories and carbs. While a lot of these recipes require an ice cream maker, this one is simple and foolproof with just a blender needed. Simply blend 1 scoop of protein powder, ¼ cup almond milk, ¼ cup water and 1 tbsp. cocoa powder. I personally also add 1 tbsp. of chunky peanut butter for a great flavor and bite! Next, freeze it until ready to eat it and then leave it out for about 10 minutes before eating for optimal consistency and the most authentic ice cream experience!
5. Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie
Smoothies sound healthy, in theory. Many contain yogurt, milk and fruit, all which on their own offer plenty of nutritional value. But throwing it all into a blender, while it makes for a refreshing drink, it can be loaded with calories and carbs. Instead, opt for unsweetened almond milk and Greek yogurt and protein powder as your main ingredients and add in berries that contain the lowest amount of carbs of all fruit. You can also use peanut butter. There are low-sugar versions now available on the market, like Legendary and many others.
While I love having delicious treats, I also enjoy normal blood sugars and feeling good in my own skin. Using lower-carb and lower-calorie substitutes for some of my higher-carb favorites allows me to satisfy my sweet tooth without sacrificing my health and wellbeing.
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