If you’re living with Type 1, Type 2, or gestational diabetes, mealtimes can be a cause of stress; and a source of worry is what to drink.
Whether you’re controlling your diabetes and blood sugar through diet and exercise, or with medications and insulin, you still need to be cautious of the food and drink that enters your body.
Living with Type 1 diabetes myself, I know firsthand how much one wrong drink choice can affect blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetics do not produce insulin themselves so they must inject insulin with each meal. What you drink is important, in fact drinking just one sweetened drink a day can raise your risk of Type 2 diabetes by 25 percent.
People tend to think that fruit juice is a good choice, but with a high concentration of fructose, diabetics should only consume fruit in its whole form.
When fruit is juiced, it is stripped of all its fiber, and fiber is what helps to slow down the blood sugar spike. Consuming fruit juice will set you up for a roller coaster of blood sugar levels all day. So fruit juice should be reserved only when you’re dealing with hypoglycemia—in this case you are drinking it to increase your already too low blood sugar.
Alcohol is another beverage that diabetics should be wary of. Alcohol is a contributing factor to hypoglycemia. You will first experience an increase in your blood sugar levels due to the sugar content, then a reactive drop in blood sugar, resulting in cravings, headaches, dizziness, fainting, and more. Avoid alcohol altogether, or minimize to one low-sugar drink once or twice a week.
I don’t think I really have to mention it, but soft drinks, sports drinks, or any artificial fruit drinks are very high in sugar and should strictly be avoided.
A not so obvious option to avoid is diet soft drinks or other diet drinks. Although they do not contain sugar and do not increase blood sugar levels much at all, they do not contribute to your health in any way.
In fact, some studies have shown they can have some serious negative affects on the body. Diabetics are often encouraged to consume artificial sweeteners, resulting in a high intake. My advice: if you still have a craving for sugary drinks, purchase the all natural sweetener stevia, which can be found in health food stores and now sold in packets. Stevia does not contribute to raised blood sugar levels.
Drinks for Optimal Blood Sugar Control
Water. An obvious option, but a very important one. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times, and you’ll find you won’t be tempted to pick up a sugary drink. Purchasing a good quality water filter is also a good idea to avoid any unwanted chemicals in your water.
Herbal Teas. You can find many herbal tea options that suit your taste. If you prefer, add a spoonful of stevia to sweeten them up. Herbal teas are excellent warm or chilled with half a lemon squeezed in.
Unsweetened Almond or Coconut Milk. With only 2 grams of carbohydrates per cup of unsweetened almond milk or 1 gram per cup of unsweetened coconut milk, these are good options for diabetics. The fat content will also slow down any rise in blood sugars. I add these milk alternatives to smoothies, cereal, or drink them on their own.
Chocolate Smoothie. For a high fiber, low carbohydrate chocolaty treat, try out this chocolate berry smoothie recipe. The high good fat and fiber content will help balance your blood sugar while you enjoy a yummy, healthy, chocolaty drink.
High Fiber Chocolate Berry Shake
1/2 an avocado
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
1 cup frozen berries of choice
1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
Stevia, to sweeten to your liking
Filtered water (add as your blending to desired consistency—less liquid will make it more of a pudding, add more for a more smoothie-like consistency)
Add all ingredients together in a blender and blend. Add the water as needed and to desired consistency. Makes one large shake.
Susanna Deering is a nutritionist with a passion for great tasting food. As a Type 1 diabetic herself, she is deeply aware firsthand how important the right foods are to our diets. This article was originally published on NaturallySavvy.com