The Role of Carbohydrates

Foods contain three main nutrients: carbohydrate, protein and fat. Carbohydrates are necessary for good nutrition—they provide important vitamins and minerals and give your body the energy to function properly, but they can raise your blood glucose level, so pay attention to how much of them you eat.

Where's the Carbohydrate?

These foods contain your body's favorite energy source, carbohydrate:

• Fruit and fruit juices

• Cereal, pasta, rice and other grains

• Breads, crackers and rolls

• Cakes, pies, bars, cookies, candy and ice cream

• Chips, buttered popcorn and crackers.

• Pizza, soups, stews, pasta, casseroles and sandwiches

• Vegetables, like potatoes and corn

It's best to space carbs throughout the day to get the energy you need without overwhelming your body's insulin supply. Since your body "runs" on carbohydrates, every meal and snack needs to contain some.

Choices: An Easy Way to Count Carbohydrates

The total amount of carbohydrate you need daily is divided into sets of 15 grams each. One set of 15 grams of carbohydrate equals 1 Carbohydrate Choice. It's that simple: all you have to count are carbohydrates.

Spread across meals and snacks, your meal plan includes the right number of Carbohydrate Choices for you. If a food has 5 or more grams of fiber, you can subtract the total fiber grams from the total carbohydrate grams before determining the number of Carbohydrate Choices.

Essential Nutrients

Fiber helps maintain a healthy digestive tract and lower blood cholesterol levels. Experts recommend at least 25 grams of fiber daily. To get enough fiber, include:

• Whole-grain breads, cereals, bran, rice, pastas

• Vegetables and fruits, with edible skins, seeds and hulls

• Legumes (dried beans and peas) and nuts

Water quenches thirst, replenishes fluids lost throughout the day and helps keep your body running smoothly. Experts recommend at least eight glasses of water daily.

Five Simple Secrets to Help Manage Diabetes

You can help keep blood glucose levels close to normal and achieve a healthy diet by:

1. EATING BREAKFAST

Breakfast sets the stage for energy and nutrition for the day. Breakfast eaters tend to have diets containing more vitamins, minerals and fiber and less fat and often have better control over their weight.

2. NOT SKIPPING MEALS

Skipping meals makes it difficult to maintain blood glucose levels and can be a set-up to overeat at the next meal. When staying on your food plan isn't possible, find appropriate snacks to hold you over until your next meal.

3. PLANNING MEALS AND SNACKS Planning helps you become an expert on what foods work well for you. If you don't plan, you may find yourself eating what's available and that may not be best for you. In each meal, include a little protein from lean meats, nuts and low-fat dairy foods.

4. CONTROLLING PORTION SIZES

The Plate System, developed by the American Diabetes Association, is a great tool to visually balance your plate -even restaurant meals. Pretend your plate is divided in half. Then divide one of those halves into equal sections:

One-half plate = Non-starchy Vegetables (spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, tomatoes, asparagus, romaine lettuce).

One-fourth plate = 1 serving Meat or Other Protein (egg or tofu).

One-fourth plate = Bread/Grain (bread, rice, tortillas, cereal) or Starchy Vegetables (potatoes, com, beans, lentils).

For more, see Rate Your Plate at www.diabetes.org. 5. BEING ACTIVE

Exercise helps lower blood pressure, improves blood cholesterol level and controls weight. Regular physical activity also helps lower blood glucose levels by making your body's cells more sensitive to insulin. Find an activity or two that are right for you and fit them into your life.

In Your Kitchen. You can reduce fat, calories and sodium and add fiber and flavor where it counts the most, in your kitchen.

» Cut down on fat. Think liquid; use canola or olive oil rather than solid butter, margarine or shortening.

» Cook without adding fat. Braise, steam, poach, or bake. Grill and broiling allow fat to drip off.

» Reduce cholesterol. Use egg whites and substitutes. Eat cholesterol-lowering oats and barley.

» Eat 100% whole wheat bread and buns, whole wheat pasta, couscous, brown rice, bulgur wheat, millet, quinoa.

» Eat more vegetables and fruits.

» Add legumes and beans to soups, stews and stir-fries.

» Include potassium-rich foods, peaches, tuna, beans, spinach and tomatoes.

» Pick low-sodium broth; cook potatoes, pasta, rice in unsalted water.

INSTEAD OF SALT, SPRINKLE ON:

• Vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)

• Chopped fresh or dried herbs

• Salt-free seasoning blends

• Grated lemon, lime or orange peel

• Chopped fresh chile peppers

quick skillet meals and casseroles

Any one of these super-easy, terrific-tasting skillet dishes is bound to become your next family favorite.

In this chapter »

9 Curried Turkey Stir-Fry

11 Szechuan Beef and Bean Sprouts

12 Bacon and Tomato Frittata

13 Green Chile, Egg and Potato Bake

14 Corn, Cheddar and Tomato Quiche

15 Sesame Shrimp Stir-Fry

16 Fire Roasted Tomato-Shrimp Veracruz with Couscous

17 Turkey and Green Chile Stuffing Casserole

18 Sesame Chicken

19 Nacho Chicken Casserole

20 Italian-Style Shepherd's Pie

21 Stir-Fried Pork with Mushrooms and Broccoli

22 Stuffed-Crust Pizza

23 Mexican Macaroni and Cheese

24 Penne with Spicy Sauce

25 Spinach and Turkey Enchiladas

DID YOU KNOW?

Because it's quick, instant rice is a great choice for busy cooks. When you have the time, make this stir-fry with regular brown rice. Brown rice cooks in 45 minutes and has a chewy, nutty texture. You can cook it ahead of time and refrigerate for up to three days or freeze for up to three months. Just heat and eat.

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