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Diabetes Health Center

Whole Grains and Type 2 Diabetes

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Having diabetes doesn't mean you need to give up every piece of bread or dish of pasta. You can still enjoy foods made with grains, as long as you make them whole grains.

Whole grains are packed with fiber, which can help lower your cholesterol and reduce your heart disease risk. Fiber slows digestion and the absorption of carbohydrates and may not raise your blood sugar as quickly as refined grains. And because whole grains help you feel fuller for longer, they can help you manage your weight.

4 Ways to Eat More Whole Grains

The easiest way to eat more whole grains is to make a few switches in your diet, such as swapping out white bread and rice for whole wheat bread and brown rice. Also, try these tips:

  1. Add grains like barley and bulgur wheat to soups, stews, salads, and casseroles to add texture.
  2. When you bake breads or muffins, instead of white flour use half whole wheat flour and half oat, amaranth, or buckwheat flour. You can also use these whole-grain flours in pancakes and waffles.
  3. Instead of having crackers for a snack, eat popcorn, which is a whole grain. Just skip the butter and salt. Unsweetened whole-grain cereal makes another good snack option.
  4. Make quinoa your side dish instead of rice. You can also use quinoa as a coating for shrimp and chicken instead of flour or breadcrumbs.

Read Labels Carefully

Finding whole-grain foods in your supermarket can be tricky. Some foods that appear to contain whole grains really don’t. You need to look carefully at food labels. Don't be fooled by:

  • Terms like "enriched." Enriched wheat contains only part of the grain.
  • Foods labeled "containing whole grain," "made from whole grain," or "multigrain." They're not 100% whole grains. Look for "whole grain" as the first ingredient listed.
  • The food's color. For example, bread may be brown only because it contains added ingredients, like molasses.

How Much Is Too Much?

Even though whole grains are healthy, you don’t want to eat unlimited amounts. How much of these grains you can eat depends on how well you're managing your blood sugar.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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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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