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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 19, 2017

Managing diabetes with carbohydrates

By BY MICHELLE KUSTER, RD, LD Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor | Nov 10, 2016

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Did you know that one in 11 Americans have diabetes or that someone is newly diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. every 23 seconds? We also know that 86 million Americans are at risk of developing diabetes.

There is no better time than now to prepare yourself for the upcoming holidays and to learn healthy eating strategies for lifelong behavior change to prevent, delay or manage diabetes. Managing diabetes is about controlling blood sugar levels. One method of meal planning to control blood sugar levels involves counting carbohydrates (carbs). To better understand carb counting one must learn what foods have carbohydrates and their portion sizes.

Foods that contain carbs and recommended to be counted:

•Dairy: milk and yogurt


•Starchy vegetables: potatoes, corn, peas

•Vegetable proteins: Beans (any variety), soy products

•Dessert foods/beverages: Regular soda, juice, cakes, cookies and candy

• Fruit: Fresh, canned and frozen

To figure out how many carbs packaged foods contain, look to the nutrition facts panel. Foods that do not have a food label will require an estimation of how much carb is in it. When planning meals as a diabetic, one serving of a carbohydrate food equals about 15 grams.

A few food examples with approximately 15 grams of carbs:

• 1 tennis ball size of fresh fruit

• 1 slice of bread

• 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal

• 1/4 of a large baked sweet potato

• 1 cup milk (skim to whole)

• 1/2 cup cooked beans

The amount of carbs one needs will vary on the individual. A great place to start is 15 to 30 grams at snacks and 45 to 60 grams at meals. A person’s carb amount will depend on many factors; an individual’s activity level and prescribed medications will influence how many carbs your body can handle to keep your blood glucose in a healthy range.

Animal-based proteins (ex: chicken, eggs, fish, beef, etc.), fats (ex: nuts, seeds, oils, etc.), and non-starchy vegetables (ex: lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, etc.) have either no carbs or contain little carbs. Therefore, it’s generally easier to not focus on including these foods in your carb counting.

Whether you are a diabetic needing more assistance to manage your blood sugar, pre-diabetic or have never had your glucose measured, your local dietitian is available to help you better understand. If you haven’t had your glucose levels checked, ask to set up a biometric screening today.

Try this recommended fall favorite recipe, Chicken Enchilada-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash.

Chicken Enchilada-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Serves four (1/2 stuffed squash half).


-2 (8 oz each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

-1 (2-1/2 to 3 pound) spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

-1-1/4 cups red enchilada sauce, divided

-1 medium zucchini, diced

-1 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese


1. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 450 degrees.

2. Place chicken in a medium saucepan, add water to cover and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and gently simmer until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and shred with two forks. Transfer to a large bowl.

4. Meanwhile, place squash cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish and add two tablespoons water. Microwave, uncovered, on high until the flesh is tender, about 10 minutes. Alternatively, place squash halves cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven until the squash is tender, 40 to 50 minutes.

5. Use a fork to scrape the squash from the shells into the large bowl. Place the shells on a broiler-safe pan. Stir one cup enchilada sauce, zucchini, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt into the squash and chicken. Divide the mixture between the shells; top with the remaining 1/4 cup enchilada sauce and cheese.

6. Bake on the lower rack for 10 minutes. Move to the upper rack, turn the broiler to high and broil, watching carefully, until the cheese starts to brown, about two minutes. To serve, cut each shell in half.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 408 calories, 22g fat, 11g saturated fat, 136mg cholesterol, 426mg sodium, 20g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 7g sugars and 34g protein.

Daily values: 22 percent vitamin A, 32 percent vitamin C, and 28 percent calcium.

Recipe source: EatingWell, Inc.

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