When I first joined the diabetes online community, almost one year after my diagnosis, I found myself surrounded by people who were having great success managing their blood sugars with low-carb diets. I was always a sucker for sweets and eating out, and self-control was not my strong suit, so I figured there was no way I could even give this a shot. Everyone else seemed so regimented, dedicated, and diligent. I didn’t think my zest for low-carb could ever match theirs.
Then I noticed some people who were choosing to make the transition slowly. Maybe I could succeed if I did it in baby steps? It seemed like a better place for me to start — with small and sustainable changes. I started putting in the effort and, to my surprise, it wasn’t hard at all. And it was totally worth it: My blood sugars have been so much more stable.
If you’re like me and you’re nervous about going whole hog into the keto world, try these simple steps. They can help put you on the path to successfully managing your blood sugar (and your weight!) with a low-carb diet.
Stop: drop the roll!
Bread, tortillas, buns: Forget about them.
I thought I would have a hard time getting into this habit, but when I first removed the wrap from my grilled chicken, roasted peppers, and fresh mozzarella, it suddenly felt like I was eating a delicious entree from an Italian restaurant. I never truly appreciated what was in between my sandwich as there was always so much bread I had to get through first. The bread or wrap doesn’t even taste that good half the time — let’s be serious, it’s just there to keep your hands clean.
Removing the wrap, bread or roll can save you hundreds of calories and carbs. And if you increase the filling, that might just mean more healthy protein and veggies. If you are insulin-dependent, this can also help make dosing easier and reduce the risk of going too low or too high.
Drink water or sugar-free beverages
This might be the easiest and most important switch that everyone with diabetes should make. Sugary drinks (including fruit juice) are a dose of highly-concentrated carbohydrates, and very little else.
It is very easy to order a Coke at a restaurant or pick up a pumpkin spice latte from your local Starbucks, but if you do this on the regular, the calories and carbs can really add up. Making better drink choices can allow you to hydrate while not worrying about your blood sugar. There are so many healthy and flavorful low-carb beverage options today, such as these great low-sugar sports drinks.
Save soda and sugary drinks for hypoglycemia.
Use natural zero-carb sugar alternatives
Sugar alternatives are so much better than they used to be! Quit worrying about “sugar-free” foods made with sorbitol or maltitol, weird chemicals that upset your stomach. If you put sugar in your coffee or enjoy sweet treats, you can still satisfy your sweet tooth by using a healthier sweetener. These sweeteners will not spike your blood sugar.
New favorites include allulose, stevia, and monk fruit powder, but there are many popular options around: they all taste a lot better than the pink and blue packets we grew up with.
Stock up on high-protein foods
Protein is super healthy, has a mild impact on blood sugar, and can even help you curb your appetite. At meals make meat, seafood, legumes, or tofu the centerpiece of your plate.
Keeping easy-to-reach healthy high-protein snacks on hand will help cut out high-carb pantry grazing. Stock up on veggies and cold cuts, and find a new favorite protein bar to satisfy that persistent sweet tooth. Here are some of our community’s favorite low-carb protein bars!
Get creative in the kitchen
There is nothing more satisfying than searching low-carb “anything” in Google and having a million links pop up. Whatever you’re craving, I guarantee you there is a low-carb alternative. I no longer miss real pasta now that I can enjoy zucchini linguini and edamame noodles. Pizza? Rice? Mashed potatoes? There are low-carb options for all of them, and they can taste pretty awesome.
I also can pretty much replace any decadent dessert with a low-carb substitution. If you start searching, you’ll be surprised how many low-carb swaps there are.
Kicking carbs to the curb can be easier than you imagine. If you’re serious about making changes and ready to put in some effort, these simple tactics can help make the transition a lot smoother and more enjoyable, too.