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7 Tips for Diabetes-Friendly Cooking

Using Sugar in Diabetes-Friendly Recipes

The problem with sugar is not just that it's another form of carbohydrate. It's a simple carb that can quickly raise blood sugar, unlike the carbs from vegetables or starches that are absorbed more slowly. Carbohydrates are what make your blood sugar levels rise. Beyond that, sugary foods are also usually high in calories and low in nutrition. As for all carbs, use sugar wisely.

Instead of using the amount of sugar called for in a recipe, try using less. Many times you can reduce the amount of sugar without seriously affecting taste or texture. You may need to add more flour. In yeast baked goods, though, the yeast needs the sugar in order to do its job. You could also try using a sugar substitute. Check the product label to be sure it is a sugar substitute designed for baking. Another thing you can do is find other ways besides adding sugar to enhance the flavor. For instance, using spices (see below) or fruit juice concentrates can liven up a recipe.

Spices, Flavor, and Diabetes-Friendly Recipes

Often, recipes rely on sugar, salt, and fat to satisfy your taste buds. You can change that by experimenting with herbs, spices, and flavored vinegars and mustards instead. These can give foods unique flavors without extra calories. Some spices may even have health benefits of their own. Cinnamon, for example, may help lower blood sugar levels.

Here are some flavor-enhancing ingredients to start experimenting with:

  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom
  • Nutmeg
  • Vanilla and other natural flavorings
  • Any kind of vinegar -- balsamic to sherry
  • Flavored mustards

Salt Substitutes and Diabetes-Friendly Recipes

Salt is often used to preserve food and as an inexpensive flavoring. We've gotten used to the taste of salt, but its effects can be bad news. Excess sodium in the diet can lead to cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure and heart disease, especially for people with family history of these conditions. People with diabetes are at greater risk for these health problems, so it's not a bad idea to cut back on salt where you can.

Instead of using salt, try reducing the amount of salt in a recipe -- but not for recipes with yeast, which needs the salt for rising. A good alternative is replace some of the salt with spices and other flavorings. You can also add salt at the table instead of during the cooking. Another way to reduce how much sodium you get is to choose fresh over canned and frozen foods. Canned and frozen foods tend to be higher in salt.

Check other ingredients such as nuts, too, to be sure they don't also contain salt. If they do, substitute lower-salt items or don't add additional salt.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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