Is It Safe For Diabetics To Have Oranges?

Diabetes: Is It Safe For Diabetics To Have Oranges? Here's The Answer

Fresh and seasonal fruits are an intrinsic part of a healthy diet. They are rich in a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients that are essential to carry out various body functions. Health experts often emphasize on the need of including fruits of all types and colors in one’s diet. But if you happen to be a diabetic, you need to be a little cautious of what you have on your plate, even when it comes to fruits. Fruits that have high sugar content or glycaemic index like chikoo and melons are not very advisable for diabetics. Whereas, consuming fruits like guavas and tomatoes has been linked to lowered blood sugar levels. Oranges too, are said to be beneficial for diabetics. Read on to know why.

 

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

Diabetes Management: Why Should You Add Oranges To Diabetes Diet 

The American Diabetes Association has listed citrus fruits among Diabetes superfoods. According to the association, citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits and lemons are full of fiber, vitamin C, folate and potassium, which would help benefit a healthy diabetic eating plan.
Oranges are full of fibre. Fibre takes longest to break down and digest. This enables the slow release of sugar into the bloodstream, which would further ensure that your blood glucose levels are stable for a long period of time. Moreover, the glycaemic index of raw oranges is just about 40-43. The Glycaemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbs with low GI value (55 or less) are digested, absorbed and metabolized slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood glucose. Diabetics are advised to include more low GI foods in their diets.

Diabetes Management: Eat Whole, Don’t Juice It 

Make sure you have the fruit raw and whole for maximum benefits. Drinking its juice may cost you some healthy fibres and shoot up the blood sugar levels. A study published in the journal Diabetes Care, revealed that eating citrus fruits could lower the risk of diabetes in women, but drinking the fruit juice may prove detrimental to their blood sugar levels.

The GI score of unsweetened orange juice is also around 50, as compared to the GI score of whole orange (40)

 

 

How To Stop Your Cravings for Carbs

complex carbs, craving carbs, stop craving carbs, carbohydrates, whole wheat, lentils, quinoa

You know the feeling: You’re hit with a wave of hunger and you start scarfing down any carb-loaded snack you can get your hands on. But after the binge, comes the regret and then, a few hours later, you feel hungry again.

It’s a vicious cycle but one most of us are familiar with. And while it may seem like a mystery, there are actually several reasons why you might find yourself craving carbs throughout the day. To get a better understanding of why this happens and how you can curb your carb cravings, we talked to registered dietitian Anna Taylor, RD.

Why we crave carbs

Carbs are one of three main fuel sources for us in our diet, alongside protein and fat. And because of this, Taylor says it’s important to remember that carbs aren’t some forbidden food.

“Carbs aren’t evil,” she says. “They play an important part in a balanced eating plan. We want carbs because they’re our body’s favorite fuel source, especially for activity and exercise.”

The important role carbs play is at the root of why we need and want carbs as part of our overall diet. But there are also specific times when certain behaviors trigger particularly heavy cravings for carbs and, according to Taylor, these are the instances we need to look out for.

Too many refined carbs

One big reason you might find yourself craving carbs is due to an intake of refined carbs, or simple sugars. Some of the most frequent examples of these are white bread, pastries, sodas and even pizza.

“When we eat too many of those refined carbs, it increases our cravings for those foods,” explains Taylor. It’s a process known as insulin response. When we consume a lot of these refined carbs, those foods are more quickly digested and absorbed into the body, causing a spike in blood sugar. That spike, in turn, triggers hunger that causes us to, yep, reach for those refined carbs again and keep the cycle going.

 

 

Too few healthy carbs and calories

Another reason you might find yourself craving carbs is that you’re consuming too few carbs to begin with. Of the three main fuels for your body — carbs, proteins and fats — carbs burn the fastest.

“Your body digests and absorbs those fuels at different rates and they all do different things for your body,” notes Taylor. “So, if you’re not including enough carbs as part of your intake, your body is going to ask for those.”

Taylor says that sometimes people just don’t get enough calories overall, too. “If you’re not eating enough at all, then you’re definitely not getting enough fuel,” she says. “Low-calorie diets or skipping meals may seem like a good idea, but it’s counterproductive because then you’re on an empty tank which can trigger more — you guessed it — cravings.”

Seeking dopamine

When we eat carbs, Taylor says our body releases dopamine, a “feel-good” hormone that can operate as a sort of reward. “When we feel stressed, we have these food cravings that we attribute to a lack of willpower,” says Taylor. “But that’s not the case. It’s because eating things, especially refined carbs and simple sugars, triggers that dopamine response.”

How to curb these carb cravings

If one or more of these examples hit a little too close to home, don’t worry. There are several ways you can adjust how you eat that can curb those carb cravings without completely turning your diet or routine upside down.

Eat high-fiber carbs

To break that vicious refined carb cycle, Taylor advises adding high-fiber carbs to your diet. “High-fiber carbs are absorbed and digested more slowly, which keeps your blood sugar from spiking so quickly, minimizing hunger triggered by the insulin response.”

Some examples of high-fiber foods include:

  • Whole-wheat pasta.
  • Quinoa.
  • Lentils.
  • Chickpeas.
  • Beans.
  • Edamame.

An additional benefit is that the slower digestion and absorption of high-fiber carbs means your body will have the fuel for longer. “This helps you feel more satisfied for a longer time, especially between meals,” Taylor notes.

She also notes the other health benefits of fiber, including feeding healthy bacteria in your gut, improving cholesterol and heart health, controlling blood sugar and helping keep you regular.

Cut out white grains and simple sugars

If you can limit those refined carbs, Taylor says, you can limit those vicious cycles. And foods made with white grains and simple sugars are a big source of refined carbs. Steer clear of things made with white flour like white bread, crackers, tortillas and even pancakes.

For simple sugars, try to limit those high-sugar items like ice cream, candy, cookies and sugar-sweetened drinks. But Taylor also warns about the added sugar in foods we don’t typically associate with those examples, like granola, cereals and yogurt.

Add lean proteins and fats

Besides making sure you’re eating the right type of carbs, including a balance of lean proteins and fats can keep you full for several hours between meals and give your body that needed fuel.

Taylor recommends what’s called the “plate method,” an approach to a full plate meal that gives you the right balance of food and fuel. The plate method calls for:

  • Half your plate is reserved for non-starchy vegetables like carrots, asparagus, green beans, spinach and broccoli. Salads also count here.
  • One-quarter of your plate is reserved for lean protein like eggs, tofu, poultry, fish, shellfish or even low-fat cottage cheese.
  • One-quarter of your plate is reserved for some of those high-fiber carbs mentioned above. You can also include starchy veggies, like potatoes, sweet potatoes corn or peas.

“It’s a ‘Goldilocks’ approach,” says Taylor. “You get the right balance and the right amount of everything you need.”

Get the right plan from a dietitian

If you feel your fuel sources are still out of whack or you’re still not getting that calorie count quite right, consult your doctor and a dietitian. They can help walk you through plans that are best for you. We’re all different and our bodies work at different speeds. But consulting an expert who knows you and your overall health, you can work to come up with the right plan for you.

Deal with stress in a non-nutritive way

When you’re feeling stressed from work or family life, you might turn to food for that dopamine rush. Instead, advises Taylor, find a non-nutritive way to deal with that stress. “There are so many ways you can still relieve stress and get that dopamine rush that doesn’t involve unhealthy foods.”

Going for a walk, spending time in your garden or talking to a friend are just a few ways you can replace unhealthy food. Even watching television while having a hot cup of tea or listening to a podcast is a great way to unwind without relying on food.

“Find things that make your heart happy without going through your stomach first,” Taylor encourages. “A chocolate bar may temporarily relieve that stress but later on, you’ll come to regret it and be hard on yourself. That’s a perfectly human reaction, but look for replacement behaviors that release that dopamine but don’t rely on nutrition.”

 

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

7 Weight Loss Tips That Lower Your Diabetes Risk

Pumpkin seeds almonds sunflower seeds magnesium foods

 

Having diabetes is a lot like being in the middle of the ocean and dying of thirst. You’re surrounded by something your body desperately needs, but ingesting it will kill you. With diabetes, that toxic substance is sugar.

Sugar—derived from the various healthy fruits and vegetables we eat—is what our bodies run on; we can’t function without it. But when you suffer from diabetes, that very same substance can wreak havoc.

Your digestive system turns brunch into glucose—the form of sugar your body uses for energy—and sends it into the bloodstream. Zap! You got the energy. But glucose is actually toxic when it lingers in the bloodstream, so when the glucose hits, your pancreas—a large gland located near your stomach—produces insulin, a hormone, and sends that into the bloodstream as well. Insulin is your body’s air traffic controller: It takes command of all your glucose and directs it into your cells, where it can be used for rebuilding muscle, for keeping your heart pumping and your brain thinking, for exercising or even singing or dancing.

But overeating on a consistent basis—or taking in too many calories too quickly, like when we eat sweets or drink sweetened beverages—turns insulin into the boy who cried wolf. Eventually your body’s insulin receptors—the docking stations where insulin parks glucose—begin to ignore insulin’s instructions. That’s a condition known as insulin resistance. After several years, the pancreas gets fed up with producing all that ineffective insulin and begins to produce less than you need. This is called type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes.

Glucose builds up in the blood, turning toxic and damaging the blood vessels, which is why diabetes can result in blindness, impotence, amputation, and other horrible afflictions. But remember, the body needs that glucose, which is now overflowing from the bloodstream and passing out through the urine. So at the same time too much sugar is killing you, you don’t have enough sugar in your cells to keep your body functioning. You feel fatigue and unusual thirst, and you begin losing weight for no apparent reason. You get sick more often, and injuries are slow to heal because your body is losing its ability to maintain itself.

More than 10% of the American population has diabetes, and more than a third of us have elevated blood sugar levels. Several studies indicate, though, that belly fat is strongly correlated with risk factors such as insulin resistance, which sets the stage for type 2 diabetes. Reducing belly fat via exercise and a healthy diet are two of the best ways to prevent and manage the disease.

1

Discover something fishy.

wild salmon

There’s a reason why omega-3 fatty acids are one of the core nutrients. Considered “essential” because the body does not produce them naturally, omega-3s boast a number of health benefits, including helping to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. A study by the University of Eastern Finland found that men with the highest intake of omega-3 fatty acids had a 33% reduced risk for this type of diabetes, compared to men with the lowest intake. Oily fish like wild salmon, rainbow trout, sardines, and mackerel are among the best sources of omega-3s. The American Heart Association recommends eating two 3 1/2-ounce servings of fatty fish per week.

2

Circuit train your belly away.

cardio

Aerobic exercise is known to prevent type 2 diabetes, and combining a heart-pumping cardio session with muscle-strengthening exercises is even better. A study published in the journal PLOS Medicine found that women who engaged in at least 150 minutes per week (about 20 minutes per day) of aerobic activity and at least 60 minutes per week (three 20-minute sessions) of muscle-strengthening activities reduced their risk of diabetes by 33% compared with inactive women.

3

Get your Greek on.

Cold greek pasta salad

A Mediterranean diet may help to guard against obesity and consequently reduce your risk of diabetes by up to 21%, according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session. The researchers’ conclusion comes from the analysis of nineteen original research studies that followed more than 162,000 participants for an average of five and a half years. While there is no set Mediterranean diet, it commonly emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, fish, olive oil, and even a regular glass of red wine.

4

Hit the trail mix.

Trail mix

A study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that people who consumed the most magnesium from foods and from vitamin supplements were about half as likely to develop diabetes over the next 20 years as people who took in the least magnesium.

Large clinical trials testing the effects of magnesium on diabetes risk are needed to determine whether a causal relationship truly exists, but researchers have found that as magnesium intake rose, levels of several markers of inflammation decreased, as did resistance to the effects of the key blood-sugar-regulating hormone insulin. Higher blood levels of magnesium also were linked to a lower degree of insulin resistance.

So what should you stock up on? Pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate are two of the best food sources of magnesium.

 

 

5

Eat the whole thing.

fresh red apple slices

Simply choose a whole apple instead of a glass of apple juice, and not only will you dodge a ton of added sugar and additives, but you may also lower your risk for diabetes, according to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health. Researchers found that people who ate at least two servings each week of certain whole fruits—particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples—reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by as much as 23% in comparison to those who ate less than one serving per month.

Conversely, those who consumed one or more servings of fruit juice each day increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 21%. Swapping three glasses of juice a week with three servings of whole fruit was associated with a 7% risk reduction! The high glycemic index of fruit juice—which passes through the digestive system more rapidly than fiber-rich fruit—may explain the results.

6

Don’t load up on acid.

A study of more than 60,000 women found that an acid-promoting diet, one that includes more animal products and processed foods than fruits and vegetables, causes a number of metabolic problems including a reduction in insulin sensitivity. According to the study, women with an “acid load” in the top quartile had a 56% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with the bottom quartile. Foods that promote an alkaline body environment—vegetables, fruits, and tea—counter acidity.

7

Give red meat the red light.

Bad news for people who love going back for seconds at the cookout: Researchers at the University of Singapore found that a small increase in red meat (we’re talking half a serving per day) was associated with a 48% elevated risk for type 2 diabetes over the course of four years. The good news is that you can undo some of the damage by reducing your red meat intake.

 

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

Can Too Many Soft Drinks Shorten Your Life?

Young woman sipping soda through a straw

Once again, soft drinks are getting linked with negative effects on your health.

And this time, it’s not just the consequences on your waist line and scale. Instead, one study found that consuming any type of soft drink contributes to early death.

Let’s say that louder for the people in the back.

According to the study – drinking soda shortens your lifespan. Period.

The study looked at data on 451,743 people with an average age of 50. And the results showed that it didn’t matter whether the people were drinking soft drinks with real or artificially added sugar.

“The striking finding was in nearly half a million people, there was an increased risk of death from all causes, including heart disease, with people that consumed sugar-sweetened beverages, sodas and artificial sweeteners,” says Mark Hyman, MD, who did not take part in the study. Results showed that people who consumed two or more glasses a day of soft drinks, sugar-sweetened or artificially-sweetened beverages had an increased risk of death from cardiovascular or digestive diseases.

Nothing but bad news

Dr. Hyman says that diet soda is not a “free pass” to consume soda without the negatives.

When it comes to artificial sweeteners, other studies have shown they are linked to obesity, diabetes, increased hunger and can impact your metabolism.

“Diet drinks have artificial sweeteners in them that affect your brain chemistry, make you hungry and can slow your metabolism,” says Dr. Hyman. “They affect your gut micro biome in ways that are not good.”

Instead of soda, or sugar-sweetened drinks, Dr. Hyman recommends looking for a sparkling water or a water with a small amount of fresh fruit added to it. “The key message here is – soda, sugar-sweetened beverages and artificial sweeteners are not good for you,” says Dr. Hyman. “They contribute to death from all causes and heart disease, so we should not be consuming them.”

Is Avocado Good For Diabetics?

Millennials get flak for being the avocado toast generation. But they’re definitely on to something. Avocados are as nutritious as they are delicious and they come with some great health benefits.

Registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD, says, “Avocados are a great addition to a healthy diet.” Jam-packed with vitamins and nutrients, here are some good reasons to give these wrinkly green fruits a second look and add them to your regular rotation.

One avocado, a ton of nutrients

There are hundreds of avocado varieties, ranging from big to small, wrinkly to smooth. What they have in common: a big round pit, creamy green flesh and a whole lot of nutrients crammed into a handy pear-shaped package.

Whether you’re adding a slice to a salad or sandwich or using them as an ingredient in a more complicated recipe, avocados have a lot going for them, health-wise, Zumpano says. Here are some of the many nutrients and vitamins packed into just a single avocado.

  • Monounsaturated fats: Avocados are rich in these heart-healthy fats, which help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Low LDL levels reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Folate (B-9): Avocados contain a significant amount of folate, which is important for normal cell function and tissue growth
  • Vitamin K-1: Vitamin K-1 is important for blood clotting and may have benefits for bone health
  • Potassium: This is an essential mineral that is beneficial for blood pressure control and heart health. Avocados contain more potassium than bananas.
  • Copper: Copper is low in a standard American diet. Copper plays a role in iron metabolism
  • Vitamin C: Aids in immune function and skin health.
  • Vitamin E: This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant that prevents cells from damage.
  • Vitamin B-6: B vitamins help convert food into energy.
  • Fiber: Avocados are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. And fiber can lower cholesterol and blood sugar, keep you regular and help you feel full and satisfied after a meal.
  • Low sugar: Compared to most fruits, avocadoes rank VERY low on the sweet scale.

How to enjoy avocados

A perfectly ripe avocado is slightly firm but not rock-hard. Can’t wait to eat it, but it’s not ripe? Store it in a paper bag on the counter until it gives a little when you squeeze it. Once it’s ripe, you can store it in the fridge for a day or two to keep it from going soft too quickly. (Or just dive right in, since a ripe-but-not-too-ripe avocado is a time-limited treasure.)

But don’t go overboard. Avocados are packed with nutrients, but they’re not exactly low in calories. A 50-gram portion — about a third of a medium-sized avocado — has about 75 calories. An entire large avocado can add upward of 400 calories to your daily diet.

Like most things, says Zumpano, moderation is key. “As long as you’re paying attention to portion sizes, avocados are great foods to include in your diet,” she says.

Avocado recipes even skeptics will love

The avocado is an all-ages treat, says Zumpano. Lots of babies love it mashed with banana. For an older palate, there are almost endless ways to use it. Some ideas to get you started:

  • Adorn burgers and burritos with avocado slices.
  • Cook them into quesadillas.
  • Start your day with a delicious combo of veggies, avocado and poached eggs.
  • No time for guacamole? Buy some store-bought salsa and mash avocado into it for a quick guac-hack.
  • Add them to a salad, such as a tomato avocado salad with shallot-lemon dressing or zesty mango, avocado and black bean salad.

You can also use the smooth, creamy fruit to replace the less-healthy fats in your diet, Zumpano says. Here are some additional ways you can add avocado to your diet.

  • Instead of slathering a sandwich with mayonnaise, spread some avocado on the bread.
  • Swap in avocado slices instead of shredded cheese on your salad.
  • Skip the butter on your toast and, yes, embrace avocado toast.
  • Rather than snacking on dips made with cheese or sour cream, dunk your veggies in guacamole.
  • Replace the butter or oil in recipes with mashed avocado (such as in these chocolatey avocado brownie bites).

“If you use avocado to replace other fats, you can enjoy the flavor and nutrients and also cut down on saturated fats,” she says.

 

7 Reasons to Start Your Day With Lemon Water

Even the smallest changes in your routine can have a big impact on your health. Take starting your day with lemon water, for instance.

Internal medicine specialist Roxanne B. Sukol, MD, MS, discusses seven reasons why you should consider adopting this super simple habit.

  1. Aids in digestion
    Acid helps break down food. That’s why there’s so much of it in our stomachs. The acid in lemons may be especially helpful in supplementing stomach acid levels, which tend to decline as we age.
  2. Helps you stay hydrated
    Most of us don’t drink enough water. A daily lemon water habit is an easy way to get your day off on the right foot. How do you know if you’re drinking enough? Your urine is almost clear.
  3. Weight-loss friendly
    We’re creatures of habit. Ponder the impact of replacing your morning OJ or latte with lemon water. Not just once, but perhaps 20 times a month — and multiply that by 10 years. Your waist line will thank you.
  4. Prevents oxidation
    Like all produce, lemons contain phytonutrients, which protect your body against disease. These phytonutrients have powerful antioxidant properties, which prevent cell damage from oxidation, the same mechanism that causes rust.
  5. Supplies a healthy dose of vitamin C  
    Juice half a lemon into your water and you’ll add a mere 6 calories to your diet. Plus you’ll get more than a sixth of your daily vitamin C, which is needed to strengthen your immunity.
  6. Provides a potassium boost
    Your body can’t function without potassium. It’s necessary for nerve-muscle communication, transporting nutrients and waste and blood pressure regulation. Fruits and vegetables are important sources of potassium.
  7. Helps prevent kidney stones
    Lemon water helps prevent painful stones in those deficient in urinary citrate (a form of citric acid). More importantly, increased fluids help prevent dehydration — a common cause of kidney stones.

How to enjoy lemon water

Simply squeeze half of a lemon into a glass of water. How much? When? It really doesn’t matter. Any way you do it, it’s a big plus for your health.

Don’t forget the peel

Capture the rich nutrients by zesting your lemon (organic, please) and using in baking or cooking.

Will it hurt my teeth?

Theoretically, lemon acid can be harmful to your enamel, but you’re diluting it here. As long as you don’t make a habit of sucking on lemons all the time, you should be fine.

Can You Eat Grapes If You Have Type 2 Diabetes?

green and red grapes

 

Diabetes is a serious health condition, and it affects millions of people around the world. It is often thought that a piece of fruit might be harmful to diabetics because of its sugar content. However, fruits can still be enjoyed following a few tips.

Since diabetes is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels, people with diabetes must carefully monitor their blood sugar. It is important to eat foods that have a good effect on blood glucose control.1 They should be high in fiber and have a low glycemic index (GI).1

Are grapes good for diabetics?

Eating fruits with a low glycemic index, such as grapes, are less likely to spike blood sugar levels.1 Other high-GI fruits should be eaten in low to moderate amounts.

Fruits should be eaten as snacks and not with meals to prevent the overconsumption of sugar.1

Fruit juices should be avoided, because they are stripped of all the fiber needed for blood sugar control in diabetics.1

It is important for diabetics to eat raw non-processed fruits.1 Fresh fruits can provide the most nutrient benefits. Processed fruits likely contain added sugars that can be harmful to health.

Fruits should be eaten according to portion sizes as recommended by a healthcare professional. Especially for dried fruits. They contain more carbohydrates than non-dried fruits.1

Grapes are a healthy fruit choice for diabetics that can be eaten in a variety of ways.

Health benefits of grapes for diabetic

Nutrients

In 151 grams of grapes there are 27.3 grams of carbs, 1.1 grams of protein, 0.2 grams of fat, and 1.4 grams fiber.2

Their high fiber content makes them a good fruit choice for diabetics.3 Fiber helps with health management because it is not absorbed by the body. Instead, it passes through the stomach and intestines. For diabetics, it can normalize bowel movements, remove “bad” cholesterol, and slow down how much sugar is taken into the body.3 Grape fiber can also help with obesity-related diabetes. As an energy-dense low-calorie food, it improves the feeling of fullness.3

Grapes are packed with lots of essential vitamins and minerals. They are filled with vitamins C, K, and B6, as well as thiamine, riboflavin, potassium, copper, and manganese.1 Vitamin K is good for proper blood clotting, and vitamin C is a great antioxidant source.1

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are important compounds for protecting against free radical damage that cause oxidative stress.4

Grapes hold most of their antioxidant chemicals in their seeds and outer skin.4 Depending on the type of grape they will have different antioxidants that give them their unique colors and health benefits.4

Grapes carry many antioxidants, such as resveratrol, anthocyanins, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and others.4

Anti-inflammatory

Anthocyanins are an anti-inflammatory compound found in foods.4 Grapes are full of anthocyanins, along with other things that help decrease the amount of inflammation in the body.4

Control blood pressure

Grapes contain 6% of the daily recommended potassium intake (in 151 grams).2 Potassium is a key mineral for regulating blood pressure.5 The potassium from grapes can decrease blood pressure in the vessels of the heart and protect against disease and stroke.5

Lower blood sugar

Resveratrol is a chemical compound known to regulate the way the body handles sugar after a meal.6 Grapes contain resveratrol and for this reason, they can help diabetics manage their blood sugar levels.

A study done in 2015 showed that men who consumed 20 grams of grape extract a day had lower blood glucose levels, than those who did not.6

The purpose of the GI is to show how much or how little carbohydrates spike blood sugar.

The sugar in grapes, and other fruits, is called fructose.

One cup of grapes contains 23 grams of fructose.1 Although this may seem high, a single serving of grapes has a glycemic index of 25.4 This is a low score compared to other types of fruits. Grapes can be beneficial for diabetics because they rank lowly on the glycemic index.

When eaten in moderation, grapes can provide great health benefits for diabetics.

Reduce cholesterol

The polyphenols (nutrients from plants) found in grapes can help to control cholesterol levels.7 One study, involving 69 participants, has shown that eating three cups of red grapes was able to lower “bad” and total cholesterol levels in people.

Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional to create a meal plan that’s right for you.

Oatmeal and Diabetes – Dos and Dont’s

When managing blood sugar, it’s important to control the amount of carbohydrates eaten in one sitting, since carbs directly affect blood sugar.

It’s also important to choose nutrient-rich, high-fiber carbohydrates over refined and processed carbs with added sugar. Carb intake targets should be determined on an individual basis with the help of your healthcare provider.

This means that what you eat matters a great deal. Eating foods that are high in fiber and nutrients but low in unhealthy fat and sugar can help maintain a healthy blood sugar level, as well as improve your overall health.

Oatmeal offers a host of health benefits and can be a great go-to food for those with diabetes, as long as the portion is controlled. One cup of cooked oatmeal contains approximately 30 grams of carbs, which can fit into a healthy meal plan for people with diabetes.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal has long been a common breakfast food. It’s made of oat groats, which are oat kernels with the husks removed.

It’s typically made of steel-cut (or chopped), rolled, or “instant” oat goats. The more processed the oats are, as in the case of instant oats, the faster the oats are digested and the faster the blood sugar can potentially increase.

Oatmeal is usually cooked with liquid and served warm, often with add-ins like nuts, sweeteners, or fruit. It can be made ahead and reheated in the morning for a quick and easy breakfast.

Because oatmeal has a lower glycemic index, it may be a better alternative to other breakfast choices, such as cold cereal with added sugar, breads with added jelly or pancakes with syrup.

Those with diabetes can test blood glucose levels after different types of breakfast foods to see how their blood sugar responds.

Oatmeal can also promote heart health, which is important because people with diabetes are prone to heart disease.

Pros of oatmeal for diabetes

Adding oatmeal to your diet to help manage diabetes has both pros and cons. The pros of adding oatmeal to your diabetes eating plan include:

  • It can help regulate blood sugar, thanks to the moderate to high fiber content and lower glycemic index.
  • It’s heart-healthy due to its soluble fiber content and the fact it can lower cholesterol.
  • It may reduce the need for insulin injections when eaten in place of other carbohydrate-rich breakfast foods.
  • If cooked ahead, it can be a quick and easy meal.
  • It’s moderately high in fiber, making you feel full longer and helping with weight management.
  • It’s a good source of long-term energy.
  • It can help regulate digestion.

Cons of oatmeal for diabetes

For many people with diabetes, consuming oatmeal doesn’t have a lot of cons. Eating oatmeal can spike blood sugar levels if you choose instant oatmeal, laden with added sugar, or consume too much at one time.

Oatmeal can have negative effects for those who also have gastroparesis, which is delayed gastric emptying. For those who have diabetes and gastroparesis, the fiber in oatmeal can slow the stomach emptying.

Do’s and don’ts of oatmeal and diabetes

Oatmeal can be a great addition to your diet to help manage diabetes. Especially if you use it to replace other high-carb, high-sugar breakfast choices.

When adding oatmeal to your diabetes eating plan, there are several things to keep in mind:

The do’s

  1. Add cinnamon, nuts, or berries.
  2. Choose old-fashioned or steel-cut oats.
  3. Use low-fat milk or water.
  4. Add a tablespoon of nut butter for extra protein and flavor.
  5. Prepare using Greek yogurt for a protein, calcium, and vitamin D boost.

There are several things you can add to your oatmeal preparation list to increase the positive health benefits of oatmeal.

When eating oatmeal, here’s what you should do:

  • Eat it with a protein or healthy fat such as eggs, nut butter, or Greek yogurt. Adding 1–2 tablespoons of chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds can add protein and healthy fat, which can further help stabilize your blood sugar.
  • Choose old-fashioned or steel-cut oats. These choices contain a higher amount of soluble fiber, which helps better regulate blood sugar and are minimally processed to slow digestion.
  • Use cinnamon. Cinnamon is full of antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties, and may help reduce the risk of heart disease. It may also improve sensitivity to insulin and may help lower blood sugar levels.
  • Add berries. Berries also have antioxidants and good nutrients and can act as a natural sweetener.
  • Use low-fat milk, unsweetened soy milk, or water. Using low-fat or soy milk can increase nutrients without adding too much fat to the meal. Water is preferable to cream or higher fat milk for those trying to reduce calorie and fat content. However, keep in mind that the amount of milk used needs to be accounted for toward total carb intake for your meal. Eight ounces of regular milk contains approximately 12 grams of carbs.

The don’ts

  1. Don’t use prepackaged or sweetened instant oatmeal.
  2. Don’t add too much dried fruit or sweetener — even natural sweeteners such as honey.
  3. Don’t use cream.

When eating oatmeal, here’s what you shouldn’t do:

  • Don’t use prepackaged or instant oatmeal with added sweeteners. Instant and flavored oatmeal contain added sugar and salt. They also have less soluble fiber. Choose a healthy variety of oatmeal.
  • Don’t add too much dried fruit. Just a tablespoon of dried fruit can have a high amount of carbohydrates. Be mindful of your portions.
  • Don’t add too much caloric sweeteners. People commonly add sugar, honey, brown sugar, or syrup to oatmeal. These can significantly raise blood glucose levels. You can safely add no- or low-calorie sweeteners.
  • Limit or avoid using cream. Use either water, soy milk, or low-fat milk to make oatmeal.

Other health benefits of oatmeal

In addition to the blood sugar and heart-health benefits oatmeal offers, it can help with:

  • lowering cholesterol
  • weight management
  • skin protection
  • reducing the chances of colon cancer

Unprocessed and unsweetened oatmeal is slow to digest, meaning that you’ll feel full longer. This can help with weight loss and weight management goals. It can also help regulate the skin’s pH, which can reduce inflammation and itching.

The takeaway

When prepared correctly, oatmeal has many advantages that can be beneficial for anyone. Those with diabetes may benefit from replacing other highly refined, sweetened breakfast cereals. As with all carbohydrate sources, be sure to pay attention to portion sizes.

You can start the day with a meal that better regulates blood sugar and provides a long-term source of energy. It’ll also help improve your heart health. By choosing the right add-ins, oatmeal can be a hearty breakfast when you’re living with diabetes.

Always monitor your blood sugar to see how oatmeal affects you. Everyone with diabetes is different. Always talk with your doctor before making any major dietary alterations. Registered dietitians can also help with individualizing a meal plan to meet your specific needs.

 

Do ‘Cheat Meals’ Help or Hurt Your Diet?

Whether you’re on a specific diet or just being more aware of eating healthfully, everyone is familiar with temptation — and just one cheat meal won’t wreck the whole effort, right?

There are different schools of thought on the topic and different experts are going to give you a wide range of answers. But according to registered dietitian Kate Patton, RD, yes, a cheat meal is OK now and again, but it comes with caveats.

What is a cheat meal?

“Cheat meals” are meals that contain foods that aren’t on your current diet plan or are considered indulgent with a calorie count that would throw off your plan. But the idea that a cheat meal includes unhealthy foods (like a fast-food burger or milkshake) isn’t always the case. It’s about what’s on your health plan.

How often is a cheat meal OK?

“Don’t plan a cheat meal just for the sake of having a cheat meal,” advises Patton. “You can always try to go slow at first. Maybe allow yourself to step off your diet just for a very special occasion. If you discover then that it’s not for you, then don’t force it.”

One way to look at your diet and still allow a bit of flexibility for sweet or savory treats is by building in a little flexibility.

  • To maintain health, eat healthy food 80% of the time, and allow yourself 20% wiggle room (practicing portion control).
  • To improve health, eat healthy foods 90% of the time, and allow yourself 10% wiggle room.

It’s all about maintaining a healthy relationship with food and not labeling food as “good” or “bad,” says Patton. The more you can avoid associating food, your consumption and negative thoughts, the better.

She also adds that offsetting your cheat meal or cheat item with extra exercise (within reason, of course) is another way of balancing things out. “Exercising for a longer period or at a higher intensity somewhere else in your day can help with the extra calories you’re adding.”

The risks of cheat meals

Now, about those caveats.

First of all, cheat meals don’t work for everyone. It’s easy for them to become a slippery slope into a cheat day or even more regular cheat meals that offset any progress you’re making on your diet. Knowing your eating patterns and how you react to cheat meals is essential.

Don’t blow out that calorie count

Keep your cheat meal sensible. You’ll run into trouble when you go all-in on a fast-food banquet. A double-cheeseburger with large fries and a large soda can easily add up for your calorie intake for a whole day in just one meal. And that doesn’t take into account other negative components like sodium and saturated fats.

It’s possible to cycle in something a little indulgent — like a single cheeseburger — with healthier side items (veggies or salads). You’re still increasing your calorie count for the day but not to a point where you can’t make it up. It’s all about that balance and moderation.

A negative viewpoint

Many of us can fall into the trap of treating food like a tool to punish or comfort ourselves. While eating a big slice of cake may help you immediately feel better after a bad day, most times, you’ll eventually feel a bit worse from all that sugar and regret that choice.

Cheat meals can, over time, also create a feeling like a diet or meal plan is all or nothing, that if you don’t strictly follow that plan, you’re a failure. “It’s about maintaining a healthy balance overall,” says Patton. “It’s possible to have a healthy diet or meal plan that doesn’t cut anything out, it just shifts the focus to portion control.”

The right diet

A diet or healthier food plan should always start with a conversation with your healthcare provider. They’re the best-informed person about your health and what works for you. They can help you come up with a plan that fits your framework or refer you to a nutrition expert who can.

If you find yourself falling into a pattern of cheat meals, there’s a good chance the diet isn’t sustainable for you anyway. Remember, it’s all about the balance and keeping your relationship with food a positive one.

3 Reasons You Crave Sweet or Salty Foods

Sweet and salty snacks

When it comes to food cravings, you probably fall into one of two categories. You might crave sweet things like cookies or chocolate. Or you might crave a big bag of potato chips or salty pretzels. Maybe you crave both? But a lot can be said about the types of food you crave.

The reasons we crave sugar and salt are partly physiological, partly psychological and partly because of the environment in which we live.

“The human body functions a bit like a car – you put fuel in the tank, and then you drive. If the body doesn’t get the fuel it needs, then strong physical cravings can manifest,” explains dietitian Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, CDCES.

What kind of fuel does your body need? A balanced intake throughout the day of high-fiber carbohydrates, lean protein and heart-healthy fats, she says.

Are you guilty of these three factors that can contribute to cravings?

1. You’re starving yourself

Think you’re being “good” by having coffee for breakfast and a garden salad for lunch?

“Truly, you’re setting yourself up for failure in the afternoon and evening,” says Taylor. “If you go too long without eating, your body will crave the fastest fuel it can think of — refined grains and simple sugars,” she says. These are also known as empty carbs such as chips, as well as candy and cookies.

Cramming them into your body late in the day means the calories will get stored as fat.

Another popular trap you may be guilty of is meal-skipping or waiting too long between meals to eat. “This leads to significant hunger, which makes you crave anything sweet or salty you can get your hands on,” says Taylor.

Having an all-or-nothing mentality — forbidding all foods with sugar or salt — can backfire too. “Some research suggests that eliminating sweet and salty foods makes you crave them less,” says Taylor. “But eventually, most people tend to give in and resume eating the foods they’ve restricted. That often leads to bingeing.”

2. You don’t realize how addictive sugar and salt can be

Why do we crave sugar and salt, in particular?

For one thing, they taste good. Many food companies conduct research to determine which food components will tempt consumers’ taste buds the most.

“Our brains are wired to enjoy things which make us happy,” says Taylor. “Sugar, in particular, releases brain chemicals, like serotonin, that make us feel good.” This leaves us wanting to experience that good feeling over and over again, day after day.

“Many people say they’re ‘sugar addicts,’ consuming real sugar and artificial sweeteners in various forms,” says Taylor. And some sweet and salty foods and drinks are incredibly addictive. That’s why many processed foods are loaded with them. They trigger the release of dopamine, a brain chemical that motivates us to engage in rewarding behaviors.

Over time, our tolerance for sweet and salty foods builds up, and we need more to reward ourselves. “We’re basically feeding our taste buds,” explains Taylor. “This creates a vicious cycle, because your taste buds typically crave what you feed them.”

It doesn’t help that sugary and salty foods — especially processed foods — are highly accessible. “It’s extremely challenging for kids, in particular, to ignore the natural temptation of these addicting foods and to fight cravings in the school environment and at home,” notes Taylor.

3. You’re not listening to your body

Jonesing for a sweet or salty treat? Before you indulge, check your fatigue level. “Research shows that when you’re tired, you’re more likely to turn to whatever you crave to get more energy or to wake up,” Taylor says.

Perhaps you find yourself bingeing on salty snacks. The next time it happens, pay attention to your stress level. “Stress may impair your adrenal glands’ ability to regulate sodium, which may lead to salt cravings,” she says.

Take thirst into account, too. Some research suggests that mistaking dehydration for hunger may trigger cravings as well, she adds.

Finally, if you have diabetes, you probably know you get hungrier than other people. But excessive hunger can mean your blood sugar is too high or too low.

If you find yourself craving sweets, check your blood sugar first,” Taylor suggests. “If it’s over 200, try going for a walk or other light to moderate cardiovascular exercise, drinking a big glass lots of water or, if your doctor prescribes it, take insulin. If your blood sugar is less than 80, eat 15 grams of carbohydrates to help bring it back up to a safe range.”

Understanding the reasons why you crave these sweet and salty foods can help you reduce those cravings and work toward a more balanced diet.

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