nuts on a cutting board

I recently had a chance to sit down with our nurse, Grace, and discuss foods for diabetics.  In addition to working here, Grace is also the Type II Diabetes Educator at the Mass Research Diabetes Center in Waltham, and a type II diabetic herself.   She always tests her blood sugar after trying a new food.  

On low-carb food: “You should be eating good food.  Not just low-carb, but healthy too.  That means no artificial sweeteners, no preservatives, no junk.”

On bread: “I like the low-carb flax bread from Alvarado Street.  I can have a slice with my dinner.  But you don’t go crazy with it.  If you have three slices, and then you have potatoes, I don’t care what kind of bread it is: you’re going to have elevated blood sugar!  And sometimes, I want just a little bit of jam on my bread.  The sugar-free jam from Nature’s Hollow is sweetened with Xylitol, and a spoonful is fine for me.  It really tastes great.”

For breakfast: “Eggs are great for diabetics.  But you want to eat them with vegetables.  You can cut up your summer squash and your peppers and your onion and tomatoes, and maybe some spinach or kale, and scramble them right in there.  Or you can do what I do, and have roasted veggies on the side.  The veggies fill you up, and they give you fiber.  But I don’t do starchy veggies like yams or potatoes.”

For hot cereal, “oatmeal is probably the best.”  And for cold cereal?  “Look for the highest amount of protein and fiber.  My favorite is the Kashi GoLean (not the GoLean Crunch).”

What about sweeteners? “There are three sweeteners that I use: xylitol, stevia, and agave, and they’re all natural.  The stevia won’t raise your blood sugar.  The other two will, but still much less than sugar or honey.  I sweeten my coffee with agave in the morning, and my sugar only goes up 10 points.”

Is there anything to do when you want to cheat a little bit?  “Fiber really helps.  I use the WellBetX fiber.  It works better than the others.  If I take it before my meal, I can have a 40-50 count difference in my blood sugar.”

For snacks: “One word: nuts.”

What about rice? “No grain is really good for a diabetic.  But out of all the grains, rice is the worst, even brown rice.  If you want some sort of cooked grain with your dinner, try quinoa, millet, or buckwheat.  They all have their own tastes to them, and they’re really very good.”

Dessert:  “Well, there’s that new diabetic cake the kitchen makes sweetened with agave.  I have half a piece and my sugar goes up maybe 20 points.  For a diabetic, that’s not bad.  But I think we should look at fruit, especially berries instead of melons or bananas.”  And for those who want more than just berries?  “Put a dollop of whipped cream on top of your berries.  Sweeten with stevia.  Then sprinkle walnut bits or sliced almonds on top.  Diabetics are going to LOVE this!  So will everyone else”

Finally, “Customers need to let us know what foods they’re eating, so we can get them in.”