Carbohydrates Diabetics Can Eat and Carb Alternatives

1. How much pasta can a diabetic eat? What are past alternatives diabetics can eat?

Diabetic should stay away from pasta however there are alternatives such as Shirataki Noodles.

shirataki noodles
shirataki noodles

You love pasta, right? But some of our favorite comfort foods are detrimental to a diabetic approved diet. My favorite alternative to standard pasta is “Shirataki Noodles”. These noodles have many different names including Miracle Noodle and Pasta Zero. The Shirataki noodle is made from a type of fiber called Glucomannan that comes from Japanese konjac yam. The noodle will take on the flavor of whatever sauce or seasoning you use with it making them extremely versatile.

The benefits of incorporating this into a diabetic dietGlucomannan has been shown to help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and insulin resistance. Because viscous fiber delays stomach emptying, blood sugar and insulin levels rise more gradually as nutrients are absorbed into your bloodstream. In summary, Shirataki noodles can delay stomach emptying, which may help prevent blood sugar spikes after meals.

One serving of Shirataki Noodles contains 15 calories and 4g of total carbs with 3g of fiber! That is only 1g of net carbs! Compared to 220 calories and 43g of carbs per serving of your standard box pasta.

***Note: These amazing noodles come in a variety of shapes like fettuccine, spaghetti, and rice! Yes! They also have this available in a rice shape!

diabetic Spaghetti squash
diabetic Spaghetti squash

Another great alternative to pasta for diabetics is spaghetti squash. This starchy vegetable has a yellow-orange color.

Once cooked, it can be separated with a fork into strings which looks like spaghetti noodles.

At 6.5 grams of carbs per 3.5 ounces (100 grams), spaghetti squash only has about 20% of the carbs in the same amount of pasta

Also, squash is richer in vitamins A, C, E, K, and B vitamins.

Eggplant lasagna and cabbage noodles are other alternatives to your regular pasta.

2. How much rice can a diabetic eat? What is a rice alternative for diabetics to eat?

diabetic shirataki rise
diabetic shirataki rise

Shirataki rice is a great alternative to white rice. Cauliflower can also be “riced” and is very versatile due to its mild flavor. These alternatives can help replace the infamous carb we all love to indulge in…rice. As mentioned, you can even find cauliflower in a riced form in the frozen section at the grocery store.

diabetic farro
diabetic farro

A little-known ancient grain called Farro can also substitute rice in your dishes. Farro has a “nutty” flavor and is soft and chewy in texture. It’s packed with fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. That’s what makes Farro a “good” carb versus a “bad” carb such as white rice. Since farro has such high fiber content it helps to prevent blood sugar spikes. A 1/4 cup serving of Farro contains about 140 calories and 27g net carbs versus 160 calories and 35g of net carbs found in white rice.

diabetic quinoa
diabetic quinoa

Quinoa is also a popular rice substitute that has much more in protein than rice and high in fiber.

1/2-cup (92-gram) serving of cooked quinoa provides 4 grams of protein — double the amount found in the same serving of white rice. Most grains don’t contain all the amino acids to build a protein. However, quinoa has all the essential amino acids. Glycemic index of quinoa is much lower than rice which makes it a great choice for diabetics to prevent blood sugar spikes.

diabetic barley
barley

Barley is a grain that’s similar to wheat or rye. Barley resembles oats and has a chewy texture and an earthy taste.

With about 100 calories, a 1/2-cup (81-gram) serving of cooked barley is equal to a full cup of rice, so you can enjoy more. Also, it contains a little more protein and fiber.

3. Can diabetics eat a potato? Is sweet potato better do regular potato?

No! Absolute no! Sweet potato is not much better than regular potato either.

I know. Who doesn’t love anything potato? Potato goes great with many meat dishes like pot roast, but potato can put you over your recommended carb intake in just a serving. So next time you are looking to make a mashed potato try using cauliflower instead. You can boil, steam, or roast it. It’s very low in carbs, making it a great option for diabetics as well as people following a low carb diet. Root vegetables like Taro and parsnip are another great alternative to the traditional potato. Try steaming these alternatives and mashing them with garlic and other seasonings for a healthy side dish.

diabetic parsnip
diabetic parsnip

Another alternative to the potato for diabetics is Parsnips. They have a sweet taste similar to a carrot. They are very high in fiber content. Mashed Butternut Squash is also a very tasty alternative to potato.

Beware, sweet potato is not a good alternative to regular potato. Both will spike your blood sugar to the sky.
The last good alternative to the potato for diabetics would be mashed carrots.

4. Can diabetics eat oatmeal or cereal?

Cereals such as corn flakes, puffed rice, bran flakes, and pre-packaged instant oatmeal are high on the glycemic index with a value of 70 or more. Alternatives with a low glycemic index of 55 or less could be steel-cut oatmeal, rolled oatmeal, and oat bran.

On hectic, busy mornings many people rely on quick breakfast foods like cereal or pre-packaged oatmeal. Unfortunately, cereal can lead to blood sugar spikes. Boxed cereals contain added sugars and are high in carbohydrates. Pre-packaged instant oatmeal is also loaded with added sugars that can throw your blood sugars into a frenzy! Something to remember with any cereals or oats is the glycemic index (Check out my previous blog article explaining glycemic index).

I know this might not sound too exciting, but you can learn to prepare them in a fast, flavorful way. If time is an issue in the morning try to prepare a larger batch of steel-cut oatmeal and store for the week ahead. An instant pot makes preparing steel cut oats much faster with a lot less effort. Try adding cinnamon, nuts, and a sweetener such as Splenda. For some seasonal flare try and season, steel-cut oats by using spice blends like a pumpkin pie spice mix. Experiment and see what works for you.

Many people don’t look at oatmeal as a savory option, but it can be! Try savory oatmeal in the morning to switch it up. Top your oats with and an over-easy egg and incorporate some healthy veggies. Season to taste.

Chia seeds are a wonderful food for people with diabetes. They’re extremely high in fiber, yet low in digestible carbs. I love a nice cold chia seed pudding topped with berries in the mornings.

5. Can diabetics in bread? What type of bread are good for diabetics?

A great choice for sliced bread is a “Sprouted Grain Bread” which is high in protein and fiber, and easier to digest. . Don’t be fooled by whole-wheat pieces of bread. Whole wheat breads are different from whole grain breads and differ in nutritional benefits.

Breads and bakery items are also quite hard for my patients to part with. You don’t have to completely break up with them! You just need to be smart about what options are available as alternatives.
Another option that’s a great substitute for a bun or English muffin is an almond flour bread. Did you know you can make one of these with just 90 seconds in the microwave?! The recipe is so simple anyone can make it and again it’s quick.

Other bread alternatives to white bread:

-Ezekiel Bread. Ezekiel bread is one of the healthiest breads available.
Ezekiel bread contains sprouted grains and legumes, including wheat, soybeans, millet, barley, spelt, and lentils.

Rye bread is made from rye, a type of grain that is related to wheat. Rye bread is denser than regular bread, as well as much higher in fiber. Rye bread causes a slower rise in blood sugar than wheat bread. However, it also has a stronger, more unique flavor. You may need to acquire its taste.

Pumpernickel bread: Pumpernickel is a type of bread that is made using a sourdough starter, rye flour, and whole rye grains. At least one more recent study has shown that consuming pumpernickel results in significantly lower peak glucose than other bread including white, whole wheat buttermilk, and wholegrain bread. It also produced a lower peak insulin response than white or wholegrain bread.

I hope this article helped you. Stay tuned for new articles regarding more food alternatives to help your diabetes.

Ahmet Ergin, MD, FACE, CDCES, ECNU
Virtual/online Endocrinologist in FL and NY

2260 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. Ste 212 Unit #7

West Palm Beach Florida

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