By now you probably have discovered that eating the ‘wrong’ foods can raise your blood sugar and insulin levels, leading to inflammation and a host of other problems.
Carbohydrates, protein, and fat are the three macronutrients that provide energy. Of these three, carbohydrates have the greatest effect on blood sugar.
Carbohydrates include starches, sugars, and fiber. With this in mind, maintaining a low carb intake can help prevent the spikes and reduce complications.
So how can you make some simple, small swaps to help you avoid excess carbohydrate intake?
We turn to Amandeep Kalsi, MPH, RD, CHES for some expert advice.
When it comes to making food swaps when preparing in your meal, Kalsi says the main theme is sticking the ingredients that make up the meal, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner.
“Focusing on wholesome ingredients for the food swaps are going to allow an individual to make the appropriate swaps,” the registered dietician says, “which is ultimately going to help them keep their levels within range and not cause any unnecessary spikes.”
Common Food Swaps:
Food Swap for White Bread:
Eat whole grains! Whole grains contain more fiber, which helps prevent blood sugar spikes.
Food Swap for Butter:
Butter is high in saturated fats; some great alternatives are olive and canola oil or avocado.
Food Swap for Iceberg Lettuce:
Eat dark leafy greens instead of light colored ones. Again, have more nutrients to offer and more fiber.
Food Swap for Cheese:
Replace full-fat cheese with reduced fat cheese. You can also try cheeses made from nuts provided you do not have an allergy.
Food Swap for Chips:
Eat baked chips made with whole grains. Keep in mind, portion control is really important here, so keep the serving size in mind.
Food Swap for a Sweet Treat:
Eat fresh fruit such as all berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries), pomegranate, cherries, etc.
Food Swap for Soda or Juice:
Eat the whole fruit instead of fruit juice, it’s a great source of fiber. To swap out soda, try sparkling water and add lemon/lime as well as unsweetened iced-tea.
Food Swap for Cereal and Instant Oatmeal:
Go with steel-cut oats, as most cereals are made with refined grains and are high in sugar. Steel-cut oats are higher in fiber and therefore help in slowing down the rise in insulin.
Foods to Actively Avoid in Your Diet:
According to Kalsi, it’s important to avoid the following:
- Sugar-sweetened beverages
- Trans Fats foods
- White/refined bread, pasta, and rice
- Fruit-flavored yogurts
- Breakfast cereals…look for the sugar!
- Dried Fruits..sugar content becomes more concentrated due to their processing
- Packaged foods
- Fruit juices
Lastly, Kalsi says it’s important to know which foods to avoid, no matter how tough it may seem.
“Keep goals simple and easy to follow such as staying away from unhealthy fats, liquids sugars, and processed grains and foods,” she advises.
“Eat foods in their most wholesome form with minimal to no processing,” she says, “and always look for the sugar content!”