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Fast Dinners for Busy People With Diabetes

People with diabetes are often more motivated than most to cook healthful dinners at home. That's because, when you do, you have full control over the foods served and what ingredients go into them. As a result, it's easier to keep track of how closely the grams of carbohydrate you eat match the amount prescribed by your doctor or dietitian. But the fact you have diabetes doesn't mean you aren't busy with other things when it's time to put that dinner together. Here are 13 tips you can use to help you fix nutritious meals, even when you are pressed for time.

Switch to whole grains: Use brown rice and whole-wheat pasta instead of refined or processed grains to fix diabetes-friendly dinners. Look for 100% whole wheat flour and breads as well as other grains such as oats and barley. You can find convenient products to help you make this switch easier. For instance, there's frozen cooked brown rice that you microwave. Buy whole-wheat hot dog and hamburger buns, whole-wheat flour tortillas, and whole-grain-blend pasta noodles. Another healthy choice is instant oatmeal made with less sugar.

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Get more fiber: Aim for at least 8 grams of fiber per meal, especially if it includes carbohydrate-rich foods. Soluble fiber in particular can be beneficial for people with diabetes because it helps reduce the rapid rise in blood sugar that tends to take place after eating carbohydrates.  A diet high in fiber also reduces the risk of heart disease, which is higher in people with diabetes.  

Soluble fiber is found in

  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Fruits like apples, mangoes, plums, kiwis, pears, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, citrus fruits, and figs
  • Vegetables like artichokes, celery root, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, acorn squash, potatoes with skin, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus, and beets

Replace some carbs with good fat: Foods featuring or cooked with monounsaturated fat -- nuts, avocado, olive and canola oil -- can help lower blood sugar. Add nuts and avocado to dinner salads and entrees. Use olive and canola oil to cook dinner dishes. Look for products that contain either oil, such as salad dressings and marinades or bottled marinara and pesto.

Use foods that won't spike blood sugar: Foods that aren’t likely to cause a significant rise in blood sugar include meat, poultry, fish, avocados, salad vegetables, eggs, and cheese. Using these kinds of food will help balance carbohydrate-containing foods included in your meal.

Choose recipes with less saturated fat: Look for ingredients such as

  • Fish
  • Extra lean beef -- grass-fed if available
  • Pork tenderloin and skinless poultry
  • Soy products
  • Beans
  • Reduced-fat dairy

Limit foods associated with diabetes risk: When you plan your dinner menu, limit the use of refined grains and soft drinks. Switch to leaner cuts and smaller portions of red meat. Higher consumption of these items has been associated with a higher risk of diabetes, according to several recent studies.

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If the level is below 70 and 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.

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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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