Shopping with Diabetes - Tips

May 16, 2019

Shopping with Diabetes - Tips

As the food retail world has come to understand, many shoppers faced with diabetes, prediabetes and blood sugar control could use some guidance when navigating the supermarket aisles. Here are some tips to pass along to your shoppers.

Diabetes, prediabetes and blood sugar control are very important for many of us to keep in mind on a daily basis. SupermarketGuru has put together a list of some great shopping tips to keep your blood sugar in check!

So what should you buy when grocery shopping? First, you should always be sure to eat before you shop and shop from a list. These are healthy grocery shopping tips for everyone – and you should always read labels for dietary information and review ingredient lists. One important thing to look at on a food label is the total carbohydrate grams. This includes the sugar grams listed on the label as well as the other carbohydrates in the food. Other big no-no’s include trans fats and hydrogenated anything on ingredient lists.

Controlling blood sugar levels is critical for diabetics; understanding the principles of carbohydrate counting, since lower carbohydrate intake is associated with lower sugar levels in the blood, is essential. The nutrient term for sugars can also be identified by looking for -ose at the end of a word (i.e, glucose, fructose, and sucrose are all sugars). Looking for these on food labels will help identify foods that contain sugar.

Inside the supermarket, avoid highly-processed foods. Don’t let yourself be swayed by any food that claims to be a diabetic food – read the labels carefully. Although they might seem to be lower in sugars, these foods often contain other substances that will raise blood sugar when they break down. Look out for sugar alcohols — including mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. Sugar alcohols can increase your blood sugar level (although not as much as sugars), so should not be considered a “freebee” food. Additionally, products such as diabetic ice cream, cookies, and candy MAY contain more calories than the foods they are replacing. Read labels and compare products – and switch to berries for dessert!

In the produce aisle, select fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as fresh herbs and spices to add flavor to your meals. Remember, all fruits and vegetables have carbohydrates, although they are complex carbohydrates, they still have an affect on blood sugar. Diabetic friendly vegetable selections include: celery, zucchini, kale, and broccoli, as well as other dark leafy greens. In the fruit family, choose apples, berries, passion fruit, apricots and rhubarb, and sprinkle with some antioxidant packed cinnamon. Fruits such as bananas, dates, mangos and pineapples should be consumed in moderation, as well as fruit juices.

When buying grains, choose whole grains such as whole grain breads, brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat, and always make sure that the word 'whole' precedes the word grain on things like breads and pastas. Look for breads and cereals that do not list high fructose corn sweetener or other sugars including sugar, cane syrup or honey, on their ingredient labels.

People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular complications. So, it is also advised to avoid foods that are high in saturated and trans-fats. Fats that are solid at room temperature are saturated fats. Try almond milk or hemp milk and if you are going to eat hard cheeses, make it an occasional treat.

When buying meats, avoid lunchmeats and processed meats like sausage and bacon. Be sure to choose fish that are high in omega-3 fats, such as mackerel, herring, salmon, tuna, lake trout, and sardines.

Everyone's diabetes and individual nutritional needs are different. Still, the focus of any diabetes-eating plan is pretty much the same as any healthful diet — a nutrient-rich blend of foods that are low in fat and calories and based on moderate serving sizes. If your local supermarket has an in-store dietician, ask them for shopping tips based on your individual needs.

For more information visit the American Diabetes Association.