If you or someone you love is a diabetic who has recently been diagnosed with celiac disease, you may be in search of some diabetic celiac diet help.
About Diabetic Celiac Diet Help
Diabetics with celiac disease are just like everyone else in the sense that they require a well-balanced diet that includes the correct proportions of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Diabetics need to pay close attention to their blood sugar levels, which requires that they keep close tabs on their carbohydrate intake. What separates diabetics with celiac disease from others is that they have a genetic autoimmune disease, which requires that they avoid foods that contain gluten.
Gluten is a protein that exists in some grains such as wheat, barley, spelt, and rye. It is essential that all individuals with celiac disease, whether diabetic or not, avoid gluten. When an individual with celiac disease consumes gluten, their body launches an immune response. This response results in damage to their intestinal tract. This damage causes major malabsorption problems which leads to a host of health complaints. Switching to a gluten-free diet can feel very overwhelming at first, but with practice and education, it will become part of your daily routine over time. The best way to become gluten-free is to eliminate all gluten containing foods from your kitchen, so that you are not tempted to eat them. The Celiac Disease Foundation offers up-to-date information and support for people with celiac disease.
Typically diabetics are advised to control their carbohydrate intake in order to control their blood sugar levels. Carbohydrate counting is a very common method used for this. Carbohydrate counting involves counting carbohydrate "choices". A carbohydrate choice is measured as a food that contains 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving. A serving size will vary based on each individual food.
Carbohydrates include fruit, starches and bread, milks, and various "junk" foods such as ice cream and chips. Many carbohydrate choices such as bread and pasta contain wheat flour, which means they will need to be avoided by diabetics with celiac disease. Luckily, there are gluten-free substitutions of these products available. Examples of one carbohydrate choice include:
- 1 slice of gluten-free bread
- 1/2 cup of corn
- 1/3 cup of cooked gluten- free pasta
- 1 small apple
- 1/4 cup dried fruit
- 1 cup berries
- 1 cup non-fat milk
- 1 cup soymilk
- 2/3 cup plain yogurt
The Other Food Groups For Diabetics
Everyone needs to be consuming an ample amount of vegetables each day. Vegetables offer an excellent source of nutrients including protein and fiber. For diabetics, vegetables are considered to be a "free" food, which means you can consume almost as many as you would like. However, if you consume more than three cups of raw vegetables or one and a half cups of cooked vegetables at one meal, this should be counted as one carbohydrate choice. The exceptions to this rule are potatoes and corn, which are considered to be starches for diabetics and must be counted as carbohydrate choices.The good news for people dealing with celiac disease is that all fresh vegetables are gluten-free.
Meats and Meat Substitutes
Meat and meat substitutes make up another food group for diabetics. Your healthcare team will help you to decide how many servings from this group you require. Most meat and meat substitutes are gluten-free. However, it is important to read labels because gluten ingredients are added to many foods as fillers. This means that many foods that may naturally be gluten-free can actually contain gluten. For example, many companies add gluten as part of a glaze on meats, such as maple or honey glazed ham. Many processed meats such as hot dogs and lunch meats may also contain added gluten. Examples of one serving from the meat and meat substitute group include:
- 1 ounce meat or fish
- 1/4 cup cottage cheese
- 1 ounce cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 ounce tempeh
- 1/2 cup tofu
The fat group is another food group that diabetics need to pay close attention to. Since being overweight is the primary risk factor for developing diabetes, and over 80% of individuals with diabetes are overweight, watching your fat intake is very important if you are looking to control your diabetes. Fats, such as olive oil, are naturally gluten-free. However, some salad dressings and mayonnaise may have gluten added to them. Read all product labels to make sure the food does not contain gluten.When you meet with a Registered Dietitian or Certified Diabetes Educator, you will likely be advised to consume a maximum of three to five servings of fat per day. Examples of one serving of fat include:
- 2 tablespoons avocado
- 1 slice of bacon
- 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon of nut
- 2 tablespoon salad dressing
Following a well-balanced gluten-free diabetic diet can definitely be a challenge at first. However, with practice and diligence it will get easier over time. All diabetics should work with a Certified Diabetes Educator or a Registered Dietitian for individual diabetic celiac diet help. These healthcare professionals will work with you to create a meal plan that will meet their unique dietary needs. A Registered Dietitian can also work with you to eliminate gluten from your diet. You can find a Registered Dietitian near you by visiting the American Dietetic Association website.