Farmers Market Guide for Diabetes

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A weekend stroll through the Farmers Market is a feast for the eyes. The produce is bright and colorful making it easy to fill your totes with the colors of the rainbow. But before you start lugging totes of fresh produce home, check out these tips to ensure you're choosing the cream of the crop for managing your diabetes.

Choose Your Fruits Wisely

You’re probably already aware that not all fruits are created equal when it comes to diabetes. Sure, fruit is nutritious but there’s that sneaky sugar content you have to watch for. Deborah Malkoff-Cohen, MS, RD, CDE, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator says to choose fruits with the lowest sugar and highest antioxidant content. Antioxidants include a plethora of benefits including,  slowing down the aging of your skin, organs, tissues, joints, heart, and brain. Plus lower cancer risk and protect against stroke and heart disease. Definitely say yes to berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Interesting to note that blueberries are high in antioxidants but not that low in sugar. One cup has 15 grams of sugar. That’s twice as much as a cup of blackberries. Lemons and limes are right up there with berries but it’s not like you’re going to peel and eat those. However, they are a refreshing option for flavoring your water! A strong second place according to Malkfoff-Cohen are melons, peaches, nectarines, and apricots. Pears and apples will be plentiful late in the season but they’re higher in sugar so factor in about 17-20 grams of sugar for a medium size of each.

Your Body Wants You to Eat Fruit Like This

Fruit turns to sugar super fast Malkoff-Cohen says so best way to eat it is to pair it with a fat or protein to delay the sugar spike. Always eat the protein or fat first, then eat the fruit and be mindful of portion size. Here are her suggestions for pairings:

  • 1-2 Tablespoons peanut butter, almond butter

  • Nuts – just make sure to eat an accurate portion size

  • Full-fat-cheese - a serving size (about an ounce) of full-fat helps you stay fuller longer because it takes longer to digest and it prolongs the digestion which slows down the sugar spike.

  • String cheese

  • ½ Cup of cottage cheese, farmer cheese, ricotta cheese

  • ½ Avocado

  • 1 Hard-boiled egg

Some Veggies Can Be “Carby”

Like fruit, veggies are essentials to sound nutrition but some like corn, beets, and carrots are considered “carby” says Malkoff-Cohen. One quick way to remember if veggies are low carb is to ask yourself, “Do they grow above ground or below ground?” “Above ground are typically low in carbs and can be eaten more freely. If grown below ground, they contain more carbs, so their portion size becomes more important,” says Malkoff-Cohen. There are some exceptions. For example, corn grows above ground but it has about 32 grams of carbs. That’s a lot of carbs for one ear of corn but you don’t have to pass up fresh summer sweet corn at your next BBQ. “If you want to enjoy an ear of corn, I would recommend substituting that as your carb. For example, enjoy the burger or hot dog without a bun and sink your teeth into a buttery ear of corn,” says Malkoff-Cohen.

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Dietician Approved Above Ground Veggies

  • Leafy Veggies

  • Bok Choy/Mustard Green/Collard Greens

  • Spinach/Lettuce/Kale

  • Swiss Chard

  • Cabbage

  • Alfalfa Sprouts

  • Veggies with Stems

  • Broccoli.

  • Asparagus

  • Mushrooms

  • Fennel

  • Cauliflower

  • Celery

  • Brussels Sprouts

  • Veggies with Seeds

  • Avocado

  • Bell Peppers

  • Zucchini

  • Green Beans

  • Eggplant

  • Cucumber

  • Tomatoes - technically a fruit but we all think of them as veggies!

Below Ground Veggies

The carb content is higher with these underground dwellers but they do contain fiber and antioxidants. You can certainly enjoy a roasted sweet potato but portion size becomes more important. Think about making a swap at mealtime.For example, if you want a sweet potato for dinner, skip the dinner roll, pasta or other carby side dish.

  • All potatoes (sweet, white), yams, yucca, cassava

  • Parsnips

  • Carrots

  • Onion

  • Beets

  • Winter Squash (butternut/pumpkin/spaghetti squash)

  • Corn

  • Water chestnuts

  • Artichokes

Tasty Veggie Dips

Let’s face it, veggies are usually more appealing when we can dip them into something creamy and decadent. Good news! You can dip your favorite veggie into a tasty dip. Remember, full-fat is OK but be mindful and measure your portion size so you don’t go overboard.

  • Ranch dressing

  • Bleu cheese

  • Salsa

  • Guacamole

  • Sour cream

  • Hummus

  • Spinach dip

  • Tzatziki sauce

  • Olive tapenade

Photo by Stephanie Studer on Unsplash

We would love to see what you’re buying at your farmers market.

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