Diabetic Diet Food Label Reading, The ABCs

Diabetic diet food label reading is an education in misinformation. But there is a simple way to find the hidden sugars and other problems with diet food.

Label reading is not hard if you know what you're supposed to be looking for. Food makers, by law, have to make all the ingredients clear on their labels.

But it takes time to learn how to read those labels. The trouble is that to make processed foods look like good diabetic diet food, label makers use some tricks.

They hide things like the amount of sugar in their product. But if you know what to look for you can find the truth. It's all there on the label.

The Basic Four on a Food Label

Nutrition labels give you the totals in four areas: carbohydrates, protein, fat and calories. That ought to make things easy for a type 2 diabetic.

The amount of carbohydrates lets you know how much insulin your body will need to produce when you eat.

That's because carbohydrates turn to sugar, or glucose, in your digestive system, and some do it faster than others.

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The nutrition label will not tell you whether the carbs in the food are high or lower glycemic. Your glycemic index will help you with that.

The protein and fat in the food add to the calories but not to the glycemic index.

Generally, foods with higher protein and fat content will slow down the digestion of carbohydrates in your meal.

Check the Serving Size

Wouldn't it be great if just looking at the number of calories would let you know that you had a good diabetic food in your hands?

But it does not. One thing you must check is what the label calls a serving. By simply cutting the serving size, label makers can make a food seem diet friendly.

Smaller serving equals less calories. It is that simple. Would a label maker try to trick you like that? Yes, they can and do.

The A-B-C of Diabetic Diet Food Label Reading

For diabetes there are three things to look for on the label:

  • The actual numbers of the carbohydrates and calories. If the carb number and calorie count are high for the size of the package, it's a high glycemic food with lots of sugar and/or processed grain (flour and corn are common choices).
  • Check for hidden sugar in the ingredients. Maltilol is an artificial sweetener that is supposed to make foods "sugar free." Actually insulin reacts with maltilol just as if it was sugar.

    Compare the sugar free food to a regular food of the same kind, looking for carbohydrates and calories. You might find there is little difference except in the price once you've checked serving sizes.

  • If a food is labeled for diabetics, that does not mean it is low glycemic. It may simply mean sugar was replaced with an artificial sweetener.

    Processed flour acts like sugar, turning to glucose almost as fast. With insulin resistance you will have to do something to lower your blood sugar even though the food is sugar free.

The Easy Way to Eliminate Label Confusion

This one rule in diabetic diet food label reading will make diabetes nutrition simple. Eat more of the foods that don't need labels. They are fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts and seeds, and unprocessed meat.

They have carbohydrates, protein, fat and calories, but they are also full of natural fiber, vitamins and antioxidants.

Most of the superfoods that diabetic nutrition experts have on their lists come from unprocessed foods.

You do not have to eat all your vegetables raw, but if most of your diabetic diet comes from whole food (food that is in its original state), insulin resistance is reduced.

Cholesterol is lowered, and it's easier to live on a low carbohydrate diet and lose weight without sacrificing nutrition.

Many things that are high in fat, like avocadoes and nuts, are great choices because they have lots of fiber, and the fat in them is incredibly good for you.

The calories they add make it easier to diet. They are satisfying in a way that processed snacks and fast food are not.

Keep It Simple

What makes good diabetic diet food? Lots of fresh stuff, few processed grains and sugar, and careful diabetic diet food label reading.

If that causes changes in your diet habits, and you make those changes stick, you might find yourself free of type 2 diabetes and its complications. That is what makes changing worth it.

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