10 ways to r3educe carbs for diabetics

11 easy ways to reduce carbs for diabetics.

Diabetes and the relationship with carbohydrates always get a lot of attention. We are always looking for ways to reduce carbs for diabetics. Since carbohydrates are a source of energy, you need them to survive, but eating the right ones can be challenging. We used to hear about good carbs vs. bad carbs, simple carbs vs. complex carbs but the current information on carbs groups carbs into three categories, Sugar, starch and fibre.

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When cooking at home there are a few simple changes you can make in your kitchen to make it diabetic-friendly. Having the right ingredients on hand can make diabetic cooking much less intimidating. With the right changes to your everyday cooking, you can enjoy delicious diabetic-friendly meals and diabetic-friendly desserts without feeling like you are sacrificing flavour.

ways to reduce carbs for diabetics
11 ways to reduce carbs for diabetics

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What are the three types of carbohydrates?

The three types of carbohydrates are sugar, starch and fibre. All carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and used for energy. All carbohydrates are made of sugar, starch, and fibre.

Sugar Carbohydrates

Sugar carbohydrates are broken down in the body much faster, which is why you would see a spike in blood sugar. Sugar Carbohydrates used to be referred to as simple carbohydrates. The simple carbs make their way into the bloodstream quickly and cause an immediate rise in glucose levels.

Sugar (Simple) carbs can be found in things that are made with processed or refined sugar, such as cookies, soda, sugary breakfast cereals, and candy. Those are the ones I try to avoid if possible except perhaps when I am treating a low blood sugar.

Examples include:

  • Fruit juice
  • honey and other syrups
  • raw sugars
  • sugary sodas

Fibre Carbohydrates

Fibre carbohydrates are a type of carb that is not broken down into blood sugar. When you look at a nutritional label, you will see fibre listed under the total carbohydrates. When calculating insulin dosage, fibre is subtracted from the total carbs to get a not carbs number. The net carbs number is what I then use to calculate the amount of insulin required for the food that I will be eating. Fibre carbs have a lot of health benefits for diabetics a well as the general population.

Fibre is commonly found in :

  • Nuts
  • seeds
  • whole grain products, sucha as breads and pastas
  • beans and legumes

Fibre is broken down much more slowly and therefore there is more of a curve than a spike in blood sugar. I find that when I eat complex carbs it seems that the slow rise in my blood sugar coincides with the insulin I am taking, providing a more balanced blood sugar. According to the American Diabetes Association, adults require 25-30 grams of fibre per day as part of a healthy diet.

Starch Carbohydrates

Starch carbohydrates are naturally occurring carbohydrates in many vegetables. As a diabetic, I just want to know the impact on my blood sugar and is it healthy. Many vegetables and starchy food are healthy and many are unhealthy. One of the most common starchy foods is potatoes. I find that when I eat potatoes, rice or flour-based products (all of which contain starch) is difficult to control my blood sugar. For me, a better way to enjoy starchy food, besides limiting the amount, is to make sure there is lots of fibre. An example is, I do not eat white bread, but instead eat whole wheat, or sprouted bread, that is high in fibre.

Some everyday examples of starchy carbohydrates are :

  • bread
  • rice
  • corn
  • potatoes

Refined Complex carbohydrate foods

Complex carbohydrates have more nutrients in them than simple carbs. Examples of some complex carbohydrate foods are whole grains like oatmeal, barley, flax, barley, rye, brown rice, chickpeas, non-starchy vegetables like green beans and lentils. I choose complex carbs whenever I can. They digest slower and since they have fibre and other nutrients in them, they don’t cause a rapid rise in my blood sugar.

Sometimes you will see whole grain bread or other products that use the term refined. Refined means that it has gone through a process where some of the grain was changed. The result is usually less fibre (from what I’ve seen) When there is less fibre that means that it is absorbed quicker and the total net carbs are higher. To experiment – just compare two loaves of bread in the supermarket. Pick a refined one and one that isn’t and compare the nutritional values.

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Ways to reduce carbs for diabetics when dining out

Choose complex carbs when you are able. If you’re out and are looking at a menu, you likely won’t have the nutritional information in front of you. An easy way to think of it is, “white makes my sugar go outta sight and grains will keep me in range.” White, being the sugar and things like white flour, white rice, white pasta, white potatoes, french fries, and so on, that will make your sugar go up and outta sight. Many restaurants have nutritional values available if you ask. You can easily eat at most restaurants, even McDonald’s.

For a list of common restaurant nutritional values check out Nutritionix.com. It is a great reference of popular restaurants with nutritional values calculators for their menus items.

Nutritionix also has a handy app that you can add to your smartphone, which is a daily food tracker.

Ask the restaurant staff if they have a list of nutritional values or check online for a quick nutritional guide for the restaurant menu items and check the carbohydrates to make an educated choice. Most chain restaurants have nutritional values listed online. If they don’t, try using your cell phone to google the dish and see what the nutritional value of something similar would be.

Since I do a lot of cooking, I have a pretty good idea of what general ingredients are in many recipes which helps me to figure out carbs when dining out. Keep in mind that many restaurants use sugar as a flavour enhancer and a colour enhancer, which increases carbs. When I am not sure, I have no choice but to guess and check my blood sugar after eating. This is where the Freestyle Libre or Libre2 comes in. I have the app on my phone and can easily check my blood sugar on the go. If you have a Dexcom or Medtronic CGM it is easy to watch your blood sugar and make adjustments as you go.

Switch out some of those menu items for better choices

swap out traditional french fries –for sweet potato fries
Switch pizza with regular bread crust –for pizza with cauliflower or keto-friendly crust
Change the Hamburger in a bun –to a Hamburger in a lettuce wrap ( this is amazing)
Substitute the stir fry with rice –by replacing the rice with cauliflower rice or just asking for the vegetables
Skip breaded appetizers –and go for the veggie platter instead (limit carrots)
Change up the breaded chicken –and order roasted or grilled chicken instead (non-breaded)
Skip the pies and cakes –and get fresh fruit or berries. (most berries are low in carbs)

11 Ways to reduce carbs for diabetics

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Nibble on low-carb veggies.

Have a container of veggies to nibble on handy in your fridge. Some cut-up cucumbers, baby tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, and mushrooms are all good options. When you have them already cut in the fridge, you can grab a few when you have the urge to snack on something. The key is to have them already cut. which makes them convenient, and we all love convenience.

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Have a salad with or before your meal.

Opt for a garden salad, kale salad, or a spinach salad that doesn’t have added fruit or croutons. A plain salad with an oil and vinegar dressing will start filling you up before you get to the carbs. Keep it simple, no sugary dressings, just greens with things like cucumbers, radishes, celery, onion and tomatoes, and an oil and vinegar dressing. Many dressings are high in carbohydrates, check the label first and pick the one that gives you the best chance to reduce carbohydrates.

We know that it takes up to 20 minutes before your brain signals you that you’re feeling full. Having that salad starts that process. When you get to the carbs, you will already be on your way to feeling full. One more benefit to the appetizer salad.

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Cut back on bread and buns!

Bread and dinner rolls, depending on the size, can have up to 30 grams of carbohydrates for each one. Why add the extra carbs? If you feel the need, opt for the one that is whole grain. There are lots of types of bread that have seeds and fall into that complex carb category and can help reduce carbs for diabetics.

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Try celery root fries instead of french fries.

So this has got to be one of the ugliest vegetables in the aisle. BUT it is a great option for fry lovers and will reduce carbohydrates big time! It doesn’t taste exactly like potatoes but I like them. They are available in most grocery stores, but you may have to ask for them. I will be sharing a couple of recipes to help you along. These can be difficult to get crispy but using an air fryer helps.

how to reduce carbs for diabetics

To make Celery root fries, remove all of the outer skin. Slice and cut the slices into matchstick-sized pieces (or whichever fry shape you like)

Deep fry them or use an air-fryer or bake them. To bake them I place a bit of olive or canola oil in a large Ziploc bag and shake them to coat them. I add some garlic plus spice and shake again. Line a baking tray with parchment or aluminum foil, coated with non-stick cooking spray. Bake them in a 400 degree F oven for about 25-30 minutes, turning them frequently. Celeriac fries do not get as crispy as potato fries. Celeriac fries go great with a mayonnaise-based dipping sauce, like our Sugar-Free Classic Dipping Sauce.

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Pizza Time?

Try cauliflower crust. I’m not a huge pizza lover, but my family is. I’m the only diabetic in the house, but I’d like them to eat healthy too. If I’m making homemade pizza, a cauliflower crust is my first choice. It tastes great and can help to reduce carbs for diabetics.

Some restaurants offer cauliflower crust pizzas, such as Boston Pizza and Pizza Pizza. Make sure you check the nutritional value and compare it to the regular pizza before ordering, just to be sure, as not all cauliflower crusts are the same.

For homemade pizza, I partially bake my crust before putting any toppings on. I find that the crust can get soggy if I don’t and I don’t like a soggy crust. You can also buy pre-made cauliflower crusts or cauliflower crusted pizzas. Read the labels. Some companies add extra toppings to add more flavour and this just defeats the purpose.

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Substitute the side dish.

Substitution is the solution. Instead of white rice use cauliflower rice. This is an amazing substitute when cooking. I use this all the time and most of the time my family doesn’t even notice the difference. For making stir-frys, cabbage rolls or even soups that have rice in them, this is a perfect solution.

Instead of a side of rice or corn, carrots or brown beans try cauliflower, broccoli, green beans or zucchini.

There are many ways to cook sides to add more flavour, especially if you’re not a big lover of them. For example, with zucchini, I slice it thinly and fry it in a bit of canola oil with garlic. It tastes really good. (Just like the sliced zucchini from Ruby Tuesday!

For cauliflower, I have made roasted cauliflower with a spice mix, cut it into thick slices and cooked it with spice on the BBQ, cooked it in the oven with a homemade pico de gallo on it, and I’ve baked it in a casserole dish. My family loves all four of these cauliflower versions.

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Drink Up and stay hydrated!

Don’t forget to have a glass of water with your meal. Staying hydrated is important and water also helps to make you feel full. Water also helps to flush out sugar that has spilled into the urine.

Did you know that dehydration can also feel like hunger? Staying hydrated will avoid those mistaken feelings of being hungry.

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Slow your roll!

Since we already know it can take up to 20 minutes to feel full, the slower you eat, the less you will consume if you can wait 20 minutes, before taking a second helping.

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Try diabetic-friendly desserts.

If you are a dessert lover (aren’t we all) choose one night per week when you treat yourself. When that day comes, try to keep your portion size small and try not to indulge in cakes, sugary pies or cookies. Try a bowl of fresh strawberries with some sweetener and a spoon of sugar-free ice cream. You could drizzle some sugar-free chocolate sauce or sugar-free caramel sauce over some sugar-free ice cream. Check out some of our easy diabetic-friendly dessert recipes below.

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Just say no!

Stop buying it! Trying to reduce carbs for diabetics can sometimes be hard. If you find it too tempting and are constantly eating things and feeling guilty about them later, don’t buy them. If it isn’t available, then it won’t be convenient when the cravings hit.

When you have cravings you can get through them without overeating. It will be hard at first, because you will be breaking old habits, but if you are committed, it will become easier and you will enjoy the indulgences now and again because you have planned for them.

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Use Sweeteners

Did you know that most recipes can be altered to use sugar-free sweeteners? I typically use Splenda and Stevia as they are both zero-calorie and less than 1 gram of carbs. this will significantly reduce carbs for diabetics in your recipes. You can also use Walden Farms products and Jordan Skinny Syrups, both of which are zero calorie and zero carb products. These are two of my favourite product lines and you will see them appear regularly in my recipes.

There are many products on the market that are called “Sweeteners” but not all sweeteners are the same. Always read the nutritional labels and compare them to actual sugar. You will be surprised that some are the same carbs as sugar. Using the right sweeteners will help reduce carbs for diabetics.

You can do it!

Have a little confidence in yourself. If you start and fall back into old habits, then start again. If you tripped and fell, would you just sit there on the floor and never get up. Well, it’s the same here. When you give in to temptation, don’t punish yourself. Get back up! You know we are not perfect so cut yourself some slack and start over! You can do this!

Follow us on Pinterest for more tips on living with diabetes and great low-carb diabetic-friendly recipes.

We hope that this information on how to reduce carbs for diabetics has provided some useful tips to help in blood sugar management.

Thanks for visiting The Naked Diabetic, where we are simplifying diabetic life.

This post contains affiliate links. As an affiliate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases (at no charge to you).