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If you are living with type 1 diabetes, you have possibly written off pasta as a food to avoid. But, I have good news for you! Even though it is higher in carbohydrates than other foods, pasta can 100% fit into a healthy diet for someone living with diabetes. In this blog post, you will learn tips from a registered dietitian that you should consider implementing to manage your blood sugars while eating pasta.
Choose a High Fiber Pasta
Starting off by choosing a high fiber pasta brand can be incredibly beneficial for blood sugar management. Fiber impacts blood sugar levels by helping to slow down digestion of carbohydrates which can prevent blood sugar spikes. Total daily dietary fiber recommendations for Americans is between 25-30g of fiber per day. On average, most Americans are only consuming between 10-15g of fiber each day. Choosing high fiber pasta sources is an easy way to increase your daily fiber intake while still eating one of your favorite foods.
High Fiber Pasta Brands for Diabetics
Barilla Protein+ Pasta
Barilla Whole Grain Pasta
Barilla Legume Pasta
Explore Cuisine Pasta
Can Diabetics Still Eat White Pasta?
Do you detest whole grain pasta? No worries! People with diabetes can still enjoy white pasta. While white pasta is considered a refined-carbohydrates, meaning it has been wiped of its fiber during processing, there are other ways to add fiber to your meal, like adding fiber-rich vegetables, so your blood sugar can still reap the benefits.
Add Non-Starchy Vegetables
Another easy way to promote blood sugar stability to your pasta dinner is by adding non-starchy vegetables. Not only will these foods increase the nutrient-density of your plate by adding more vitamins and minerals, but it is another source of fiber to further support your blood sugar levels. Adding in non-starchy vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, zucchini and summer squash directly to your pasta meal or eating on the side are some options for you to try.
Accessorize with Lean Protein
The last stop in balancing out a carb-heavy meal like pasta is by combining a protein source to further limit the rapid blood sugar spike. Protein digests slower than carbohydrates and can help promote satiety which can further aid in blood sugar stability. Try accessorizing your plate with lean protein sources like chicken, turkey, shrimp, salmon and plant-based alternatives.
Practice Accurate Carb Counting
Pasta is one of the most difficult foods to accurately carb count for. Since most nutrition labels give you the nutrition facts for dry pasta, not cooked. The last time I checked, no one ever eats dried pasta! Coupled with the fact that every variety of pasta is a different shape and size, it can be incredibly difficult to get an accurate carb count and if you aren’t getting an accurate carb count for a carb-heavy food your blood sugar levels are likely being impacted more significantly.
How to Carb Count for Dry versus Cooked Pasta
When you cook pasta, usually 2 ounces of dry pasta is equal to 1 cup (volume) or 4oz (weight) of cooked pasta. However, in general this will vary depending on the variety of pasta you choose. Barilla has a helpful chart to help you convert portion sizes from dry to cooked pasta.
Using A Food Scale to Carb Count Pasta
Since there are so many varieties of pasta available, my preferred method of carb counting for pasta is by getting a weight versus utilizing a measuring cup. For example, if you were to use a measuring cup to measure 1 cup of penne pasta, you likely would end up with only 4-5 penne pieces in your measuring cup due to the pasta’s unique shape. When you utilize a food scale, you can get an accurate measurement of your portion size of pasta by getting a weight. My clients love this scale that shows the nutrition panel so you don’t have to do any additional calculations.
Evaluate Your Insulin Timing
When eating a meal that is dense in carbohydrates, you will likely experience a more significant rise in blood sugar. One way to potentially offset this anticipated rise is by evaluating your insulin timing. If you see a significant rise in blood sugars soon after eating, you might want to consider increasing your prebolus timing.
While there is no changing the fact that pasta is a carbohydrate-rich food, there are still strategies that you can take to manage your blood sugars while enjoying it. If you found this blog post helpful, be sure to check out my course Eating Essentials for Type 1 Diabetes. This self-paced course will help you further your tools, skills, and strategies for learning how to manage your blood sugars without giving up the foods that you love.