As part of Diabetes Awareness Month, I will try to cover some of the common questions people ask when first diagnosed. As a Diabetes Educator I see people from all walks of life dealing with this condition. Even those with a great deal of personal or professional experience on the subject can find identifying accurate and helpful information on what to do challenging.
There are a lot of questions at first. One question people often ask is if they can they eat 'sweet vegetables' or vegetables that appear to have more sugar. This includes things like peas, carrots, squash and red peppers. While these foods may truly have more sugar than the average vegetable they should not be avoided.
These vegetables often come with a large amount of fiber and fiber is a type of sugar we cannot break down. Because of this, the fiber actually slows down the natural sugars in the food allowing your body time to deal with it. So unless you are eating more than say two cups of these particular vegetables, it is very unlikely you will see a big change in your sugars from them.
That is not to say there are not exceptions. A good way to tell how a food impacts you individually is to use your glucometer. Test your sugars before you eat and two hours after and compare the change. If the increase in your sugars was not large, then you handled the amount of sugar in that food just fine.
These vegetables are important to include in your diet. They provide a variety of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Not to mention cutting them out can really limit your options for vegetables. This will be a problem since Diabetes Educators will encourage you to fill at least HALF of your plate with non starchy vegetables.
What is a non starchy vegetable?
This would include all vegetables including the ones discussed above except for corn and potatoes. It's not that corn and potatoes are bad, they just tend to have more natural sugars and carbohydrates than the others (even more than carrots and peas). Just look at them like a serving of pasta, rice or bread. They can be included but you have to be mindful about how much you have. Have them with those non starchy vegetables as well as some protein (like eggs, meat, fish or beans).
The reality is that with a well balanced diet and regular activity almost all foods can be included in moderation. So enjoy your peas, carrots, peppers and squash. Especially when they are in season!