Diabetes: What Can I Eat? (cont.)

I'm going to list off the glycemic load, which is a more accurate way to measure the effect of a food on your resultant blood sugar. And you generally want to keep your glycemic load less than 15.

  • Apples have 8
  • Apricots 7
  • Cherries 4
  • Grapefruit 4
  • Grapes 11
  • Kiwi 7
  • Orange 7
  • Peaches 6
  • Pears 6
  • Pineapple is a 10
  • Plums 4
  • Cantaloupe 6
  • Strawberries 1
  • Watermelon 6

The only fruit that got over 15 that's not dried that's on my list is bananas, which is an 18. Dried dates have a glycemic load of 58; dried figs 22; raisins 28.

So you can see that for most fruits, in reasonable amounts, there's no reason why they should be considered off limits to somebody with diabetes. I would encourage everyone, though, if eating a fruit as a snack, to try to balance it with a little bit of protein and healthy fats, just so it's a more satisfying snack, like a tablespoon of nut butter or a couple tablespoons of nuts or a slice of reduced fat cheese or four ounces of low fat yogurt.

It just makes the snack last longer, metabolically speaking. This reminds me of a situation that happened with my dad, who had diabetes. He called me one afternoon and said, "Gosh, I was really confused driving home from the grocery store. I forgot the way home, I felt funny." I immediately asked "What did you eat a couple of hours before that for lunch?"

He described a reasonable lunch and mentioned watermelon. I said, "How much did you have?" He said, "Oh, I had one." I said, "One slice?" He said, "No, one watermelon." Well, no wonder his blood sugar went through the roof. Watermelon does have a reasonably fine glucose load, but that's with a reasonable serving.

If you eat too much of almost anything, you put your blood glucose at risk. It wasn't the watermelon, per se, but the amount of watermelon that he ate that caused him trouble.

MEMBER QUESTION:
How can a beer or two affect your sugar?

MAGEE:
You have to count the carbohydrates in your beer towards your ideal number that works for you. Keep in mind that your best choices are going to be light beers, in terms of number of carbohydrate.

  • Coors Lite has 5 carbohydrate grams per 12 ounce
  • Miller Lite has 3.2 grams of carbohydrate, and about 100 calories per 12 ounces

Some people with diabetes report that a little bit of wine or beer actually seems to help their blood sugar, but the key is one. One glass of wine; one bottle of beer. You can overdo alcohol, just as you can overdo watermelon.

Now, a dry white wine has about 2 grams of carbohydrate in a one-cup serving, but the calories are still going to count toward trying to maintain or lose weight. So it's still something you want to enjoy with caution.

Just to give you a little more information about mixed drinks:

  • A 7 ounce Screwdriver has 18 grams of carbohydrate and 175 calories
  • 1/8th cup of liqueur has 13 grams of carbohydrate and 106 calories

So just keep that in mind when walking the alcohol minefield.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Do you recommend frozen vegetables in your recipes, canned, or veggie juices?

MAGEE:
I personally would rather eat frozen vegetables that were frozen when ripe, than to cook with marginal produce that's fresh. I almost never call for canned vegetables, because I find it completely unappealing.

If I'm lightening a recipe that calls for canned corn, I will always use frozen in my light version. Some of my frozen favorites are frozen chopped spinach, frozen edamame, frozen corn, frozen okra, frozen peas, and frozen green beans. I also like the convenience of frozen, because you can just have them handy and you use what you need and put the rest back in the freezer without spoiling. That's the one technique that gets me through winter -- using the freezer.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Could you please advise where a Canadian could purchase your book?

MAGEE:
Probably the best and most painless way to get the book is over www.amazon.com. Type in the name of the book -- Tell Me What to Eat if I Have Diabetes -- and it will still be delivered to your doorstep, albeit Canada. And thanks for asking.

MEMBER QUESTION:
How does sugar alcohol affect a person?

MAGEE:
It can affect a person strongly in the intestinal region if they have more than a serving, and if that person has a particularly sensitive intestinal constitution, the trick is staying with the serving size on the label.


"The holidays are and can be a difficult time for people with medical issues...[but] you can still enjoy those holiday desserts!"

Keep in mind, too, if you're trying to lose or maintain weight, that many of these no sugar chocolates and candies still have calories. It's not that they can't be useful, it's just that you have to keep that in mind. The no sugar chocolates from Hershey's taste really pretty good, which is why I caution you about the serving size.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Is it still accurate to consider that one serving of carbohydrates, or about 15 grams, will raise your blood sugar roughly 50 points, and also that the foods higher on the glycemic index will raise the blood sugar faster?

MAGEE:
The thing to consider about the glycemic index is that that is the measure of 50 grams of that food without anything else being eaten at the same time.

So in reality we're really eating a mixture of foods with different glycemic indexes, so the true result can only be really measured on yourself by measuring your blood sugar an hour or two after a meal. All types of things influence how the carbohydrates are absorbed and how quickly.

For example, with pasta, slightly undercooking pasta will give it a lower glycemic index. Processing grains into smaller particles will increase the speed with which it is absorbed. To answer your question, though, generally foods with the higher glycemic indexes do tend to raise your blood sugar higher than a food lower on the glycemic index would.

But keep in mind this is just that one food and it's a 50 gram serving. So if you consider a reasonable serving size which may not be 50 grams, depending on the food, that's when you start talking about glycemic load, which is a more accurate measure. And I really wouldn't use 15 grams as my serving because that just varies greatly, depending on the food.



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