Low Carb Alternatives
Are you sick of sky-rocketing blood sugars after every meal? While there are no magic foods that can keep your blood sugar in range all the time, there are food and snack choices that are lower in carbs and less likely to send your sugars soaring. Here are some tips for picking low carb alternatives at each meal.
For more recipes and inspiration for meal prepping with T1D, check out the Diabetes Food Hub by the American Diabetes Association or this digital recipe box assembled by JDRF.
Like they always say: "breakfast is the most important meal of the day." For people living with T1D, it can also be the most challenging meal of the day. Most quick breakfast options (like cereal, breakfast pastries, and granola bars) contain lots of rapid-acting carbs. But, there are options for every diet! Check out some ideas for tasty options that are lower in sugar and carbs.
1. Omelet with Ham and Vegetables
Most proteins and vegetables are low in carbs which makes omelets a great option for a low carb breakfast. It also make it easier to include vegetables at breakfast time. If you've got the time, this can be a delicious start to any day.
If you're going to eat carbs for breakfast, oatmeal is probably one of your best options. Oats contain beta-glucan, which helps slow digestion. The carbs in oatmeal are slower-acting than cereal, so it won't send your blood sugar soaring. As an added benefit, studies have shown that oatmeal can help reduce your appetite compared to cereal with the same number of calories. Make sure you buy plain versions rather than flavored instant oatmeal, which can come with a lot of added sugar. You can add a small amount of peanut butter (which will slightly increase the carb count) for flavor and added protein.
3. Low Carb Breakfast Burritos
Be on the lookout for low carb tortillas - some brands have as few as 4 grams of carb per tortilla! These handy wraps can change your traditional breakfast burrito from a high carb meal to a completely manageable breakfast. You can also prepare these ahead of time by individually wrapping them in parchment paper and putting them in a plastic freezer bag. Just wrap a burrito in a damp paper towel and microwave for a few minutes for a healthy breakfast on the go!
4. Chia Pudding
T1D blogger Adam Brown is a huge advocate of eating chia pudding for breakfast. According to Adam, this breakfast is filling, tasty, quick to make, and has very little impact on blood sugar. This could be a great alternative to sugary breakfast cereals or high-carb breakfast pastries! (learn more at Diatribe)
Low carb lunches can be tough to find in some school cafeterias. You may not be alone in wishing for healthy options, however - if your school has public PTA meetings or a suggestion box, this can be a great place to advocate for low carb lunch options. In the short-term, if you need low carb options to send off to school, look no further!
While the idea of a salad for lunch might not sound exciting, it can be a great source of nutrition and flavor! Adding grilled chicken, hard-boiled eggs, or fresh veggies can make any salad more delicious. Be careful about using too much dressing or adding fruits that are high in sugars, since they can spoil your low carb lunch with hidden sugars.
2. Sandwich Wraps
If you're used to preparing sandwiches for school lunches, try swapping out the normal bread option with a low carb replacement! You can use lettuce, low carb bread or tortillas, or try making a sandwich roll-up without bread.
3. Filling Low Carb Snacks
You can pack some satisfying low carb options to go along with your school lunch by including items like fresh sliced veggies or string cheese. Almonds and greek yogurt cups can also be tasty and nutritious additions to a school lunchbox. Cottage cheese can also make a great base for adding small amounts of fruit.
4. Cauliflower Rice Bowl
Instead of using rice, try using cauliflower crumbles mixed with cheese, beans, and your favorite protein. This is a great way to lower the carbs and enjoy a tasty and nutritious meal. To use it as a replacement for rice, break the cauliflower and put the florets through a food processor until they are grated into pieces about the size of rice. Cauliflower also makes an excellent replacement for couscous!
With so many dinner options, we are giving just a few low carb favorites below.
Polenta is a great staple of Italian cooking made from cornmeal instead of wheat. The carb count is much lower than other grains. You can make it at home or buy it in pre-made packs. Polenta is also gluten-free, so it's perfect if you also need celiac-friendly options!
If your family likes seafood, then you're in luck! Shrimp, salmon, and whitefish are all tasty and nutritious options that include no carbs. You can serve them with butter or enjoy them with light glazes or small amounts of sauce to minimize the carb count. Avoid battering or frying these meals if you want to keep the carb count low.
Soy may not be for everybody, but there's no denying that it's packed with nutritious protein with very few carbs. Add some soy to curry or soups for a quick protein boost without sacrificing flavor.
4. Pasta Tricks
If your family are pasta-lovers, try some of these tricks to reduce the carbs from your favorite dishes! First, look for low carb noodle offerings like Carba-Nada. These switches can go a long way in reducing the carbs of your favorite pasta dishes. Next, try making pasta using spaghetti squash! This fun veggie actually tastes delicious and looks like spaghetti with way less carbs. You could also use other spiralized vegetables like zucchini, carrots, and cucumbers to introduce more veggies into your diet (win-win!). Lastly, if you have a great family recipe for meatballs or other pasta additions - try them without the pasta! You might be surprised how much you love focusing on these elements and the sauce without the filling and carb-intense noodles.
Low Carb Desserts
Living with T1D doesn't mean you have to live without sweets! You deserve to treat yourself for all your hard work in managing diabetes.
1. Avocado Pudding
Check out this healthy alternative to traditional chocolate pudding! Don't worry - the avocado taste is cleverly disguised. You can find tons of recipes with other flavors and add-ons on various diet sites by searching 'avocado pudding.'
2. Low-Carb Ice Cream
With the advent of low carb diets, there are tons of new low carb brands for ice cream like Enlightened, Halo Top, and Skinny Cow. Someone with T1D even developed Mammouth Creameries ice cream in Austin, Texas with other T1D dessert-lovers in mind. Their ice cream is delicious and only a couple grams of sugar per serving. Check out their story on their website. Note: Be cautious with any low-sugar products that include sugar alcohols since they can upset your stomach. Many low-carb ice creams use sugar alcohols in their products.
3. Sugar-Free Staples
Don't forget the staples of sugar-free desserts! Popsicles, sugar-free gelatin with whipped cream, and fresh fruit are all delicious treats that are good all year round. Try combining aspects of each! You can have fun as a family by buying popsicle molds and experimenting with different recipes. Use sugar-free or low-carb juices as a base and add fresh fruit for a cold and tasty treat!