“Diabetes is when your blood sugar or glucose levels are higher than normal. It’s carbohydrate foods like breads, cereals, rice, pasta, fruits, milk, and desserts that can cause this rise," says Maggie Powers, PhD, president-elect of Health Care & Education at the American Diabetes Association. Learn more about managing blood sugar spikes after meals.
Your eating plan should focus on the amount and type of carbs you put on your plate throughout the day, Powers says.
But it’s also important to have foods you enjoy. You want to eat enough so you feel satisfied and avoid overeating and poor choices. Here are seven foods that Powers says can help keep your blood sugar in check and make you happy and healthy to boot.
1. Raw, Cooked, or Roasted Vegetables
These add color, flavor, and texture to a meal. Choose tasty, low-carb veggies, like mushrooms, onions, eggplant, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, and low-carb squashes, like zucchini.
Try them with dips such as low-fat dressings, hummus, guacamole, and salsa, or roasted with different seasonings such as rosemary, cayenne pepper, or garlic.
Go beyond your regular salad and try kale, spinach, and chard. They’re healthy, delicious, and low-carb, Powers says.
Roast kale leaves in the oven with olive oil for quick, crunchy chips. You can also mix greens in with roasted veggies to add texture and a different flavor, or serve them with a little protein, like salmon.
3. Flavorful, Low-calorie Drinks
Plain water is always good, but water infused with fruits and vegetables is more interesting. Cut up a lemon or cucumber and put it in your water, or make ice cubes with some flavoring in them.
If you’re not a hot tea drinker, try cold tea with lemon or a cinnamon stick.
“Not only are these beverages low-carb, they can also help fill you up so you don’t crave other foods,” Powers says.
4. Melon or Berries
Did you know that 1 cup of either of these has just 15 grams of carbs?
“It’s a little more expensive, but it’s a healthy treat packed with nutrients and fiber, and it’s a little bit sweet,” Powers says.
For a different twist, mix the melon or berries with plain yogurt, or put them in ice cubes.
5. Whole-grain, Higher-fiber Foods
Fill up on these to keep from overeating or choosing the wrong foods.
Try legumes like dried beans, peas, and lentils. You can even enjoy a black bean and corn salsa with your raw vegetables.
“These foods still have carbs, but they have interesting flavors [that help keep you satisfied],” Powers says.
6. A Little Fat
Good fat choices include olive oil, avocado, and fatty fishes -- think salmon served on of a bed of lettuce, for example.
Bonus: The fat from the fish serves as a dressing for the salad, Powers says.
Powers recommends Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, and lean meats. And don’t forget treats.
“Peanut butter on a celery stick is a good fat and protein mix for a healthy, satisfying snack,” she says.
You can also snack on a lower-fat cheese stick or a beef jerky stick -- but keep an eye on how much sodium is in them, she says.
Overall, your eating plan “shouldn’t be boring," Powers says. "It should include the foods you love with a balance of carbohydrates.”