Healthy cooking and snacking means having the right foods on hand. Whether you're preparing the evening's dinner, fixing a brown-bag lunch, or grabbing breakfast, you can stick with your diabetes meal plan if the right foods are in the pantry or fridge.
"I believe in leading people toward smart fats and lots of fiber to keep blood sugar balanced -- and to prevent heart disease," says Elaine Magee, MPH, RD. Magee is the "Recipe Doctor" for the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic and author of Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Diabetes.
In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our January-February 2011 issue, we asked WebMD's Diabetes Expert, Michael Dansinger, MD, whether stevia, a new natural sweetener, is a good sugar substitute for people with diabetes.
Magee's pantry holds lots of beans, high-fiber pastas, and grains. In the fridge: fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products because they contain important vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Need a little help with ideas for stocking your own kitchen? Here are some of our experts' suggestions:
Foods for a Diabetes-Friendly Pantry:
Canned beans: Garbanzo, pinto, black, red kidney, navy beans.
Low-fat dairy: 1% or 2% cheese like Baby Bell or Laughing Cow; string cheese (part-skim mozzarella); fat-free sugar-free yogurt; skim or 1% milk; I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray; Butter Buds.
Fresh lean protein:
Boneless skinless chicken breast
Ground turkey white meat
Laura's Lean 4% fat ground beef
Beef: fillet, flank steak
If fresh produce isn't always practical for you, stock up on canned or frozen.
Stocking a Diabetes-Friendly Freezer:
Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries.
Green Giant Select:
Broccoli, cauliflower and carrots
Broccoli, carrots, and water chestnuts
Sugar snap peas
Whole green peas
Pepper stir fry
Sugar snap stir fry
Seven vegetable stir fry
Szechwan vegetables in sesame sauce
Winter blend vegetables and cheese sauce
Frozen lean protein: salmon, tuna, tilapia, orange roughy; Louis Rich, Butterball or Jenni-O turkey sausage; egg substitutes.
Ground flaxseed (sprinkle over fruit, breakfast cereal, yogurt, smoothies, sandwich spreads for extra omega-3 fatty acids).
Spicing Up a Diabetes-Friendly Spice Rack:
Spice rubs for meat and seafood.
Garlic and onion powders, not salts.
Mrs. Dash; Mr. Dash.
And when you're shopping for all these goodies, it's critical that you read food labels for carbohydrate, salt, and fat content, says Dianne Davis, RD, LDN, CDE, a dietitian with the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center in Nashville, Tenn. "There is a wide range of nutritional value in many products, and you have to choose carefully. That's why I give specific recommendations on products."