The incidence of diabetes in the U.S. is on the rise and will likely affect over 37 million Americans by 2015, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. As we all know, treatment for diabetes depends on a healthy eating regiment, which helps to keep blood sugar levels closer to normal and prevent complications. While grocery shopping, those with diabetes should take an especially close look at food labels to understand exactly how many carbohydrates, sugars, and fats they are consuming.
Reading Labels for Your Diabetic Grocery List
There are a few key factors to look out for when you’re shopping for someone with diabetes:
- Fiber: The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that those with diabetes get 25-30 g of fiber per day. Keep this in mind as you’re grocery shopping and preparing servings during mealtime. You could also try calculating how much fiber you’re getting on an average day, and then adjust your diet to meet ADA requirements. Foods that are high in fiber include bran, which you can find in bran cereals. Just one cup of rice and wheat bran provides about 25 g of fiber. In addition to bran cereals, include spices, cauliflower, artichokes, and eggplant on your diabetic grocery list for optimal fiber intake.
- Total Carbohydrate: The grams of sugar carbs and fiber carbs are often combined into total grams of carbohydrates. Instead of estimating the breakdown of total carbs as you’re grocery shopping, do a little bit of subtraction to get a better estimate of the carbohydrate content. “If a food has 5 grams or more of fiber in a serving, subtract half the fiber grams from the total grams of carbohydrate for a more accurate estimate of the carbohydrate content,” according to the American Diabetes Association. Fiber is good. Sugar carbs are not!
- Sugar-free: Just because it says “Sugar Free” on the label, doesn’t necessarily mean that the food item is carbohydrate-free. For instance, some companies use high-fructose syrup or honey as a sweetener, which have a high carb content. The doctors at Mayo Clinic recommend that you compare sugar-free products side-by-side with their standard counterparts. Compare their carbohydrate grams and purchase the product with fewer total carbohydrates when trying to find the best product for your diabetic grocery list.
- Total fat: Total fat tells you how much fat is in a food per serving. However the “total fat” includes both “good fats” and “bad fats,” like saturated and trans fats. Mono and polyunsaturated fats, or “good fats,” can help to lower your blood cholesterol and protect your heart. However, saturated and trans fats can raise your cholesterol. Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils should be avoided, in addition to other ingredients high in saturated fat, like coconut oil or palm oil. When you’re shopping for the items on your grocery list, make sure to take a closer look at the breakdown of fats on a label, rather than simply looking at the total fat counts.
Take a second glance at all of your labels to make sure that you are achieving diabetic-friendly sugar levels, a heart-healthy diet, and the perfect diabetic grocery list.