A Carb Lover's Diet

Whole Grains Image - Masterfile

If you have diabetes, you can't eat carbohydrates, right? Wrong. Actually, fiber-rich whole-grain carbs are an essential part of a healthy diet, and are much better than white flour and other refined carbs at keeping blood glucose at optimal levels.

Grains like brown rice, whole wheat or barley are labeled "whole" because they contain all three naturally occurring layers—the germ, endosperm and bran—that are stripped out of processed grains such as white rice and all-purpose flour.

That means whole grains are packed with soluble and insoluble fiber, important to proper digestion, regulation of blood glucose and control of LDL (bad) cholesterol. They're also good sources of trace minerals like magnesium, iron and potassium, which help maintain muscles, bones and nerves. (Don't be fooled by labels that read "multi-grain": unless the word "whole" appears before the name of the grain, it isn't a whole grain.)

You can safely enjoy up to three servings of whole grains per day. A ½ cup serving typically contains about 20 grams of carbohydrates and about 80 calories.

Grains can be prepared the way you would rice or rolled oats, in a pot or rice cooker with two parts water to one part whole grain over low heat. Getting your daily whole grains can be delicious. My favorites include rolled oats for breakfast, whole wheat bread at lunch and whole-grain pasta at dinner. These are all familiar foods that you may not have tried in whole-grain (diabetes-friendly) form.

Try to include whole grains in every meal, such as in the example, below:

Meet Your Daily Fiber Requirement

These three easy-to-prepare tasty meals offer a total of three servings of whole grains, the daily recommendation for people with diabetes.


½ cup oatmeal made with 8 ounces skim milk

5 unsalted almonds

½ cup sliced strawberries

1 hard-boiled egg


Whole wheat bread with 3 ounces grilled chicken breast, ½ cup chopped Romaine lettuce, sliced tomatoes, ½ cucumber sliced, ¼ cup chopped red cabbage. Dress sandwich with 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 1 Tablespoon olive oil.

1 orange


3 ounces broiled salmon with juice of one lemon wedge ½ cup brown rice pilaf 1 cup steamed green beans ½ cup grapes

Current research suggests that eating throughout the day is helpful to blood glucose control. That means thinking beyond just the three traditional daily meals and incorporating smart snacks into your eating.

Some easy ways to get whole grains into your snacks include:

  • two cups of air-popped popcorn
  • two crisp rye bread crackers with one ounce of string cheese
  • two brown rice cakes slathered with a tablespoon of peanut butter
  • one whole wheat wrap with two ounces of turkey breast and a slice of tomato
  • and ¼ cup no-sugar-added granola with ½ cup skim milk.

Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., R.D., is a certified diabetes educator and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association; From our sister publication, Diabetes Focus, Spring 2011

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at HealthCommunities.com

Published: 24 Apr 2011

Last Modified: 11 Sep 2015