Years ago, the term “sugar diabetes” was in common usage because it was thought that eating too much sugar caused diabetes. In those days, people with diabetes were advise to avoid sugar all together.
Those days are long gone! Research has shown that moderate consumption of sugars and fats can still be a part of healthful diet for people with diabetes, as long as they keep their blood glucose at healthy levels.
Carbohydrates are found in grains, pasta, cereals, dairy products and vegetables, particularly starchy vegetables such as beans, corn, peas, potatoes and winter squash. Protein foods such as meat, fish and poultry do not contain carbohydrates, unless other ingredients such as breading are added to those dishes. Many carbohydrate foods that contain high levels of dietary fiber include whole grains, fruit and vegetables.
Because the body quickly absorbs the glucose from sugary and high-starch foods, eating large amounts of them can cause blood sugar levels to skyrocket. People with diabetes should consume some starchy or sugary foods including breads, potatoes, desserts and fruit juices only in moderation, experts say. Instead of abstaining from sugars and starches altogether, they should consume a balance of different kinds of carbohydrates, such as more whole grains, nonstarchy vegetables and whole fruits, and less starchy and sugary foods.
One way to keep a check on the amount of sugars in the foods you buy and eat is to read the nutrition labels on food packages carefully. Sugar is sometimes listed as sucrose, glucose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, maltose, dextrose and sugar alcohols such as sorbitol or mannitol. Another way to reduce your sugar intake is to modify your recipes, Bielamowicz said. For example:
• When baking, reduce the amount of sugar by one-quarter to one-third.
• In cookies, bars or cakes, replace one-quarter of the sugar with nonfat dry milk. This cuts calories while increasing the calcium and protein in the finished product.
• Add extra flavorings or spices.
• Use unsweetened frozen fruit juice or fruit canned in its own juice instead of fruit canned in syrup.
• Replace some of the sugar in a recipe with fruit juices or purees.
Because diabetes is a problem of carbohydrate metabolism (how the body uses carbohydrates), eating about the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal will help maintain blood glucose levels throughout the day.
For more information on cooking with diabetes or on the Cooking Well with Diabetes series, contact AgriLife Extension at (903) 683-5416. Classes will be held at the Southern Cherokee Federal Credit Union community room located at 602 Henderson Street in Rusk. Classes will meet on Fridays in October (1, 8, 15 & 22) from 10 AM until 12 noon each week.
Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race color, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.
The Texas A&M University System, U. S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas Cooperating