The following are just our experiences with shopping for diabetic related foods. We do not necessarily endorse these products, but these are items we use in our house in Tennessee.
Mostly, this is just for very fixed income folks who have diabetes and may be new to it.
We only hope that this in some way helps folks to find foods that taste good and help manage their levels.
Tnx, TMCD Tennessee.
DIABETIC FOODS And Shopping For Them: My Experiences Living With A Diabetic:
For the most part, diabetic foods usually consist of several key ingredients that must be considered.
"Checking ALL the labels" every time will help to make the best choices.
Moderation and quantity are also key to keeping blood glucose levels down to exceptable parameters.
Always remember this:
1. Low or No Sugar.
2. Low or No Trans Fats.
3. Lowest possible Saturated Fats in combination (Total Fats including Trans Fats).
4. Low or No Carb.
5. Low or No Cholesterol.
6. Low Quantities at mealtimes, all the time!
When shopping for diabetic foods, be sure to "check the label" information of every single item.
This takes a lot of time to do this when your in the store, but the results are well worth it.
You CAN NOT ESCAPE totally from sugar, fat, carbs, and cholesterol!!!
Generic brands are just as good as major brand names and, for the most part, will usually taste just as good if not better! This is a plus when dealing with the limited availability of diabetic foods on a very limited, fixed income food budget.
Also, there are ton's of diabetic recipe's online, such as diabetic main course meals and desserts...even diabetic chocolate Fudge! Yes, I said Fudge!
Foods To Look For:
Bare in mind when shopping for diabetic foods that the brands and their contents vary greatly. "Checking each and every label" is essential when shopping for a diabetic person.
You'll soon learn, like I did, that the amounts of sugar, saturated fats, carbs, and cholesterol in food items now a days can be massive! I never realized just how much until I actually started looking!
Common sense will result in a good variety of meals that don't have to taste bad or bland.
Experiment with different brands for taste and content and let your diabetic patient be the judge of what she or he wants. Choices and variety of meals for diabetics are always welcomed.
Even Non-Diabetic people may like some, if not all, of the items listed here too...I know I do.
Cereals- Walmart's brand (Great Value) is just as good as the brand name. Great Value Rice Crispies are good as are the Rice & Corn Cheks style and Raisin Bran type. All of these are Great Value Brand.
Cheerios is also very low in sugars and fats plus it's whole grain too.
Try to avoid the "kiddies" cereals. They are loaded with Sugar and Fat. Check the labels and you'll see what I mean.
Diabetic children will also benefit from purchasing these types of food.
Breads- Sara Lee now has a White Wheat Bread that is quite tasty with lower sugar.
Also, I have seen a Sugar Free Bread out now too, but name eludes me at this time so, Check the Label! Other whole grain brands of bread out there may be just as good so long as the sugar and fat levels are exceptable.
Milk- Hood Carb Countdown Fat Free brand milk is very low in sugar and saturated fats. Also comes in Chocolate too!
Hood used to make an Orange Juice too, but I am no longer able to find it here.
However, Minutemade Light is a good substitute if you use a little less of it.
For creaming of coffee and tea, Walmart's Great Value Non-Dairy Creamer has no sugar and the low price makes for a good choice for diabetics on a fixed income.
Yogarts- Most Diabetic people can eat yogart too. Dannon Light' n Fit Carb Control is very low in sugar and has very little fat. Also comes in a Fiber style with multiple flavors.
Oatmeal- Quaker Oats Low Sugar Instant Oatmeal brand comes in flavors and is low in Sugar. Tasty too!
Walmart's Great Value Quick Oats are a good choice for plain oatmeal to eat or bake with.
Non-Sugar Sugar- For coffee and tea, Walmart Great Value sweetner is the best and has no aftertaste. Comes in individual measured packets. Can be used for baking if you can find larger containers of it. I can no longer find larger packages of it here though.
Non-Sugar Sugar- For baking, Splenda, Splenda For Baking, and Splenda Brown Sugar is best. Splenda for Baking is half sugar or less in it, but cuts down on just straight sugar by approximately 50% or more.
Pancakes and Syrup- Hungry Jack Light & Fluffy is best and has lower sugar.
The "Add Water Only" type is best for ease of cooking.
Mrs. Butterworths Sugar Free syrup tastes the best and Log Cabin Sugar Free is also available.
Ice Cream- Bryers Heart Smart is low in sugar and fat and tastes good too. Healthy Choice brands of ice creams are lower in sugar, but the taste is not as good.
Canned Fruits- Walmart's Great Value-No Sugar Added canned fruit is very low in sugar and tastes ok too. Also, Walmart's Great Value Apple Sauce with Splenda is lower in sugar.
Other brands of No Sugar Added Fruits may be comparable. Check the Label.
Jelly- Smuckers Sugar Free Jelly is by far the best out there. Tastes really good with several flavors.(Strawberry is the favorite here!). This is just plain good!
Peanut Butter- The best tasting peanut butter we have found is Skippy's Low Carb. Sugar levels are low as are saturated fats.
Another peanut butter that is good is Walmart's Great Value. It is low in sugar, but has a higher saturated fat content, but a cheaper price.
cookies- Voortman's Sugar Free Chocolate Waffer cookies and Murphy's Sugar Free cookies (any flavor) are very good. Also, Archway has now come out with sugar free flavors too. Make sure to check the labels for fat content and cholesterol levels.
Meats- Beef and Pork- When buying meats of any kind for a diabetic, sugar is not too much of an issue.
Fats in and on the meats ARE a concern though.
As a former butcher, I have learned to trim as much fat off of the meats as possible. Use a very sharpe knife to do this and use caution! All remaining fat must be removed after cooking too.
Ask the local butcher for the leanest possible cuts and let them know that it IS for a diabetic person.
Poultry- Chicken and Turkey always have fat under the skin. Also, the skin should be removed every time anyway for diabetics, so just remove all skin and fat just to be sure.
Boneless Breast portions of chicken and turkey are the leanest parts of the bird. Check the portions for any fat and remove it. Also, a good washing is necessary and pat dry it afterwards prior to cooking.
Duck- Try to avoid Duck meat! Duck is very greasy and is very high in saturated fats.
Venison- If you are a hunter with diabeties, Venison is very lean almost to the point of being dry.
Baking of Venison Roasts works best in a baking bag with veggies and will stay relatively moist.
If you make your own Venison Burger, adding fat can be done but use as little as possible. Diabetic Persons should have no worries with this meat in careful moderation only.
Butter and Butter Substitues- For the most part, regular butter is a no-no!
As much as we all love butter, the saturated fats, cholesterol, carbs and sugars in butter are very bad for diabetic people.
However, Butter Substitues such as "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Light" are much better to use.
It has no Trans Fats, No Cholesterol, No Carbs, and No Sugar. It does have a little Saturated Fat, but not enough to worry about in moderation.
It comes in spread or spray and tastes pretty good too!
Popcorn- The best popcorn we have found is the Orville Redenbacher Smart Pop.(I think that's the name). It has lower sugar and saturated fat then regular brands of popcorn. You can also use the "I Can't Believe It Not Butter Light" Spray too, if you like butter on your popcorn.
Potato Chips- Don't even think about it!
Unless the new baked chips are ok. Check the label.
We have not tried the baked chips yet, but I'll have to look at them next time around.
Candy- Sugar Free candy is becoming more and more popular and available.
The brand we eat at our house is Russell Stover's Sugar Free. It comes in multiple flavors and it's pretty good too. Like anything else though, moderation is key for a diabetic person.
Whitman's Sugar Free Sampler is also very good and makes nice gifts for diabetic people.
Pasta's- If you want to make pasta for a diabetic, most of the brands are ok. Muellers and Creamette brand pasta's are very low in fat, sugar and usually have no or low cholesterol.
Mostly, it's what you put on it that makes or breaks the meal.
After a lot label checking, I found that the Paul Newman Brand of sauce is low in sugar and fat and tastes best to us. There are Low Carb brands of sauce out there too, but the taste leaves something to be desired.
Always check the labels before you buy.
Spaghetti sauces, like Paul Newman's, do have some sugar and some fat but the quantity the diabetic person eats, like any other food, will dictate their glucose readings.
Eating any heavy, winter type foods must be done with caution and moderation by anyone who's a diabetic.
Rices- Most rice is usually ok to eat for diabetics. For ease of use, Uncle Ben's 90 Second Microwave Rice is good. Just be careful of what you put on it.
Minute Rice is also a good choice too.
Once again, quantity should be limited.
Any rices, potato's, pasta, etc. are pure starch. Starch is converted to sugar by the body so be careful.
Soups- For the most part, soups in general are fairly low in sugar and fat... some more then others though.
Good Old Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup is low in sugar, fat, and cholesterol plus it tastes good too.
Other Campbell's soups can be low in sugar, fat, and cholesterol but be sure to check the labels every time.
A better choice is "Maruchan Ramen Noodle" Soup. These soups are mostly noodles, but are very filling and usually have less then 1 gram of sugar. Ramen Soups are also very cheap! You can buy a whole box of them for next to nothing, which is handy for fixed income diabetic folks.
Adding some lean baked chicken breast to the chicken flavored soup makes a real hardy meal. They also have beef, pork, and shrimp flavors too.
Other soups, like Progresso or similar, are much higher in sugar, saturated fats and cholesterol. Although good, they are not a good choice for a diabetic person.
One more note on soups: Making your own homemade soup is better in the long run. Make sure the ingredients you add are low or no sugar, fats, etc.
Soup starters such as Wyler's Soup Starter and Noir Soup Starter with fat-trimmed meats added are better tasting and are probably just as low in sugar and fat as commercially made soups.
Diabetic Desserts- As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of recipe's online and in cookbooks for diabetic people.
As far as shopping for items to make these desserts, you do have some choices.
Cakes & Stuff- Although hard to find now, the CarbSense Foods brands are/were good.
I used to buy the Chocolate Cake MiniCarb Mixes made by CarbSense.
For baking homemade cakes, muffins, etc. Splenda, Splenda For Baking, & Splenda Brown Sugar will be very helpful.
For other items you can buy from the store, Jello Instant Sugar Free Fat Free Puddings and Jello Instant Sugar Free Gellatins are a real winner for diabetic people. Adding a little No Sugar Added fruit to them makes for a better dessert.
Also, a real God-Send for diabetic people is Cool Whip! It is known as "Free Food" for diabetics and is bought in great quantities at our house!
Mixing it with Jello Sugar Free Puddings makes for a tasty treat.
A "glob" of Cool Whip on Jello Sugar Free Gellatin is a plus for diabetic folks too!
Both the Puddings and Gellatins come in multiple, sugar free, fat free flavors and are a mainstay at our house.
Diabetic Pies- As with any type of baking, Splenda, Splenda For Baking, and Splenda Brown Sugar are the best choices.
Walmart's Great Value No Sugar Added Pie Fillings have "lower" sugar and fat and seem the best tasting, plus the price is better then the brand names.
For pie crusts, Walmart's Great Value pre-made pie crusts are a little "lower" in sugar and fat then most as well as a low price.
We try to keep several of these on hand at any given time...just in case.
Cough Drops- What if your diabetic patient has a cold or the flu?
Hall's Cough Drops DO come in sugar free flavors such as Black Cherry & Mountain Menthol.
Not sure about cough syrup's though. I have not looked for any of those yet.
Check with your doctor about perscription sugar free cough syrups too.
The Chicken Soup items mentioned above will also come in handy.
Cola's- (Pop if your from the North) Once again, Walmart's Diet Soda is a good choice for fixed income diabetic folks. You sure can't beat the price either. The two liter bottles are 2 for $1.00! Walmart also makes a "fizzy" flavored water that has no sugar or much of anything else, but really tastes good! Grape flavor is the favorite here and it is also very inexpensive too!
These have been "some" of my experiences shopping for and feeding of a diabetic person.
I still continue to search for items every time I go to the store and seem to find more and more items that are compatable to a diabetic's mealplan.
For me, shopping for and feeding a Diabetic/Chocoholic has been a real challenge to say the least, but it gets a little easier ever time I shop now.
With practice, you can do this too if you remember to do one thing: CHECK THE LABELS!!!!.