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Whole Foods Put the Right Carbs on Your Plate

Eat more whole foods for a diabetes-friendly meal plan. Whole foods is a term often defined as unrefined and unprocessed foods, or foods that are refined or processed as little as possible before consumption. Frankly, terms like processed, natural, organic, and even whole can be confusing, and because you hear them used in many different ways it’s best to think about examples.

This recommendation to eat more whole foods is absolutely not about special or exotic foods. It’s about making simple choices that add up over time to better nutrition, better blood glucose control, and better cardiovascular health. Some excellent and simple examples would be as follows:

  • Choose whole grains. Whole grains contain everything that makes up the grain, which is the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Refined grains generally only contain the endosperm. Choosing whole grains simply means choosing whole grain breads, crackers and pastas, or whole grains such as oatmeal, barley, quinoa, and brown rice instead of the alternatives — a different package in your regular grocery.

  • Choose whole fruit. Whole fruit contains healthy dietary fiber, and no added sugar. You don’t have to choose fresh fruit, by the way. Canned or frozen fruit is excellent as long as there are no added sugars (packed in syrup). The no added sugar warning goes for fruit drinks too, of course, but you may be surprised to know that eating the fruit itself is a better choice than 100 percent fruit juice.

  • Eat lots of vegetables. Vegetables are especially important to diabetes because of their low carbohydrate content, and rich nutrient content. Again, frozen or canned vegetables are excellent if you avoid added sugar, fat or sodium. Always choose the no salt added option for canned vegetables. Pick a wide variety of textures and colors, and avoid adding sugar, fat, or sodium at home with salt, butter, and margarine, or add-ons like salad dressings.

  • Limit sweets. Added sugar not only pours concentrated carbohydrates into your diet, but also delivers no nutrients to make it a fair trade. There’s no need for you to confuse yourself with the debates about sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup. Simply resolve to minimize sweets, and look for sugar hiding in packaged food so you can avoid that too.

You have to admit that these simple choices look pretty easy on paper. But in practice it takes some effort to get beyond old habits. There’s nothing here that says never, ever eat white rice or white bread again — they aren’t poison.

When it comes time to put carbs on your plate, however, and that time rolls around several times every day, the more often you make the better choice the more your health will benefit.

You don’t have to give up the foods you grew up on in order to follow a diabetes-friendly meal plan. Just limit the total carbs to the quantity you and your dietitian have decided is right for you.

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