Q: Can eating healthier foods help my blood sugar control? I feel like I spend a lot of time focusing on the carbohydrates in my diet, and I just wonder if I’m missing something.
A: An excellent (and popular!) question. It is certainly true that most of your time is likely spend counting your carbohydrates, in order to keep blood sugars where you want them to be. However, as you point out, carbohydrates and the foods that they are found in aren’t the only thing that we eat.
Choosing to eat a healthy diet filled with good quality, complex carbohydrates, lean protein options, plenty of vegetables, and a small amount of healthy fat choices can have a big impact on blood sugar control. Sometimes this can be a direct effect because we’re choosing healthier carbohydrates that don’t spike blood sugars as much as the not-so-healthy kind. As well, sometimes it can simply be that following a healthier diet gives you more energy to be active, or more motivation to take good care of your health in other ways, like remembering your insulin doses and checking your blood sugars more often.
We can often make small changes to our diet to incorporate more healthy habits. For breakfast, which tends to be carb-heavy for most people, balancing your meal with a source of protein (eggs, egg whites, cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt, lean meat, tuna) can keep your feeling fuller longer and improve any post-meal blood sugar spikes that may be happening. If you often grab a sandwich for lunch, consider choosing wraps instead (whole-wheat or whole-grain!) and loading it full of fresh vegetables to boost your vegetable intake without changing too much else.