People may choose to reduce carbohydrate intake for a number of reasons. Those who suffer from type 2 diabetes must often find the ideal balance between the need for taking in enough carbohydrates to produce energy while also limiting carb intake to minimize unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels. Still others seek to control carbohydrate intake as a way of following a balanced diet that includes healthier foods. Whatever the reason, several strategies can be used to make sure the carbohydrate reduction produces the desired results without leading to a loss of essential nutrients.
Learn the glycemic index. This helpful guide makes it possible to determine how many carbohydrates are found in a number of different foods, raw and processed. The index provides a per serving count of carbohydrates, making the process of carbohydrate counting much easier. Using the index allows you to plan for a healthy amount of carbs at each meal while avoiding the chance of taking in too many carbohydrates at a single setting.
Limit portions. Even diabetics today are allowed to have something that is carbohydrate rich now and then, providing they limit the portion size. Learn the difference between a sliver and a wedge of cake or pie, and get an idea of how much is actually in a single serving. Limiting portions will make it easier to enjoy more of the foods you like without taking in a lot of carbs.
Avoid or minimize the use of processed grains. White bread and processed sugar provide relatively little nutritional value and increase the amount of simple carbohydrates in the daily diet. Make use of alternative sweeteners or use no sweetener at all if possible. For fiber intake, stick with small amounts of whole grains, since these will cause fewer fluctuations in blood glucose levels.
Avoid sweets. Desserts, sweet rolls and other confectionery treats may taste wonderful, but they tend to provide little in the way of nutrition and increase the amount of carbohydrates in your diet significantly. Opt for servings of fruits or frozen fruit desserts that are made with no extra sugar if you feel the need for a treat.
Watch the starch. While you want to eat more vegetables, limit your intake of white potatoes, corn and other starchy foods. Substitute with other root vegetables that contain fewer carbohydrates, and increase the amount of dark green vegetables that are consumed at each meal, since those tend to have few if any carbs while providing the benefit of a lot of nutrients.
Select meat, fish and poultry. Many red meats have very little in the way of carbohydrates and offer the benefit of plenty of protein. Fish and poultry are also good options that provide nutrients and are somewhat filling, which will help to satisfy your body’s craving for more carbs.
Broil and bake instead of frying. When preparing meats and vegetables, avoid battering and frying those foods. The flour used for the coating contains plenty of extra carbohydrates that your body does not need. To add flavor, use plenty of herbs and spices while broiling, and use an egg batter/crushed bran flakes combination to bake chicken and fish and enjoy a crispy coating.
- For additional help in meal planning, ask your doctor for a referral to a trained dietitian. The dietitian can design a diet plan that not only helps to control your carbohydrate intake but also minimize the chances of taking in too much fat and cholesterol.
- If you are reducing your carbohydrate intake as a way of managing type 2 diabetes, remember that your body may respond differently to certain foods. Always test your blood glucose levels at 2 hour and 1 hour intervals after a meal to get some idea of how certain foods impact your blood sugar, and then plan meals accordingly.
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