Your diet choices play a critical role in managing your blood sugar. Even without diabetes, managing blood sugar is the key to good health.
Sometimes foods have a “health halo.” This makes them seem like a good idea, but in reality they are causing more trouble than you recognize.
When it comes to carbs and your blood sugar, there are many misconceptions out there. Whole grains are often thought of as better choices. However, sometimes whole grain products will cause blood sugar spikes.
Sugar-free diet products may seem harmless as well. This may lead you to believe that these “free” foods don’t raise your blood sugar.
However, some of these seemingly “healthy” foods can actually wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels. Here are 6 foods that may be wrecking your blood sugar, and what to look for to make a better choice.
1. Granola Bars
Granola bars are a common grab-and-go for breakfast or a snack. They are made from ingredients like oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, honey, coconut, and chocolate chips. While some do contain healthy ingredients, many contain a significant amount of added sugars.
They may be a sufficient choice in a pinch when your blood sugar is low but may not be worth including as a staple in your diet.
Here are some guidelines on what to look for in a granola bar, per serving:
- Fiber > 3 grams
- Protein > 5 grams
- Sugar < 10 grams
- Minimal ingredients and artificial sweeteners such as sucralose (AKA Splenda)
Alternatively, you can make your own homemade healthy granola easily.
Yogurt is a great fermented food that can be incorporated in a healthy diet. However, yogurts are on a spectrum from good and healthy to excessive sugar.
Particularly sweetened and flavored varieties, will pack a lot of sugar.
Plain Greek yogurt is best. Plain yogurt is much lower in added sugar compared to flavored, and greek yogurt can contain twice as much protein. Protein helps with increasing satiety and may delay your blood sugar response to food.
Try a plain, Greek variety with a handful of your own fruit or nut toppings.
3. Diet Soda
In the past, diet soda was considered a “free” beverage. Now we know diet soda may in fact cause blood sugar spikes and weight gain. Diet products may increase cravings for sweet foods and beverages due to the intense sweetness of the artificial sweeteners present.
If you are a soda drinker, it is best to reduce your total intake of soda as much as possible. Instead of diet soda, you can try seltzer or flavoring your water naturally with lemon, lime, or berries.
4. Breakfast Cereal
There are so many cereals advertised as healthy or containing “whole grain ingredients.” Even Lucky Charms is advertised as such. However, these still contain a significant amount of added sugars. Additionally, they are highly processed and are quickly broken down into sugar in your body.
For these reasons, there are not really any healthy breakfast cereals. Your best bet is to incorporate a higher protein breakfast.
5. Whole Wheat Bread
While whole wheat or whole grain bread is often touted as healthier, it does still contain carbohydrate and can cause blood sugar spikes. When choosing a bread, knowing what to look for on the nutrition label is key.
A bread labeled as “wheat” or “7-grain,” isn’t necessarily a whole wheat product. Look for the words “whole wheat” or “whole grain” as the first ingredient. While whole wheat bread might be a better choice than the more processed white breads, it still may not be the best choice when it comes to managing your blood sugars.
Opt for lower-carb options such as Joseph’s Flax Bread. Sprouted grain breads such as Ezekiel are also a more nutritious choice due to their easier absorption. Additionally sourdough bread is a better alternative. Another option is to try my low carb grain-free breakfast loaf.
6. Whole Wheat Pasta
If you’re a pasta lover but are trying to watch your blood sugars, you may be turning to whole wheat pasta as a seemingly healthy alternative. Is whole wheat pasta really that much better?
While whole wheat pasta is slightly more nutritious, fiber and protein-packed than traditional pasta, it still is carb-heavy. Even though it is a better option, the carbohydrate content is essentially the same as it is in regular pasta.
Other lower carb pasta alternatives include chickpea or bean-based pasta, spaghetti squash, or spiralized squash or zucchini.
Reducing the amount of these 6 foods discussed, making better choices, and pairing them with other foods can reduce your glycemic response to those foods.