Yes, whole grains can make an excellent contribution to your Healthiest Way of Eating if you have been diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The nutrient richness of whole grains-together with their very good fiber content-are reasons that whole grains can help balance blood sugar levels. It’s important that 100% whole grain products are selected because many products say “whole grain” even when less than 5% of the total product contents come from whole grains. Depending on the amount of difficulty that you are experiencing in controlling your blood sugar levels, the frequency and exact quantities of whole grains in your Healthiest Way of Eating may not be issues you can determine without the help of your healthcare provider. The general principles that apply to eating whole grains and blood sugar control, however, are as follows:
- Two-thirds of a cup of cooked 100% whole grains (like a one-cup serving of cooked oats or brown rice) is a generally safe amount at any one meal. A slice of 100% whole-grain bread can vary dramatically in terms of calories and amount of food (gram weight), and in this case, two small-to-medium single slices of bread (weighing about one ounce each) may be an equivalently safe amount. (Both of these amounts constitute 2 servings of grains in a diabetes food group approach to meal planning.)
- Combining your whole grains with a small amount of some protein-rich food (for example, a small serving of beans, nuts, or seeds) can often be helpful in blood sugar regulation.
- Be careful not to overconsume grains even if they are organic and 100% whole. Additionally, you may want to measure out your portions; it’s easy to get two cups’ worth of rice when you think you are only getting one cup.
- Don’t rely on whole grains as the sole focus of your meals or snacks. A large plate of pasta is not safe for regulation of blood sugars, even if the pasta is 100% whole grain. Treat grains and breads more like side dishes that complement your meals.