Whether you have diabetes, or a loved one that does, it can be an intimidating disease to manage if you’re not prepared. Stocking a diabetes–friendly pantry is key for balancing blood sugars and living a healthy life.
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month
From balancing blood sugars, to medications, to making sure you’re counting those carbohydrates correctly, it can feel like a lot. Whether it’s type 1, type 2, gestational, LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes in adults) or one of the other types of diabetes, there are some central themes to nutrition management for any type of diabetes.
Having a grocery store like Sprouts close by is a huge blessing to anyone looking to manage their diabetes. Not only do they offer inexpensive pantry staples, perfect for someone looking to stock a diabetes friendly pantry, but they also educate and train their staff to be able to answer general questions you may have about the products they sell.
Stocking a Diabetes-Friendly Pantry
I’ve got 37 staples for stocking a diabetes-friendly pantry that will make life easier and more efficient. Make sure to check out your local Sprouts for these items!
Oils, Vinegars and Condiments
Oil, vinegar and condiments are a great way to add flavor and depth to an otherwise bland dish—without adding carbohydrates, sodium or preservatives—but you have to know which ones to pick.
Avocado oil and grapeseed oil, are two versatile oils. They’re great for high-heat cooking and both have a smoke point of at least 450°F. Extra virgin olive oil is great for homemade salad dressings and marinades for lower-heat cooking. All three oils offer those good fats recommended for people with diabetes.
Balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar are great to have on hand for homemade salad dressings and marinades. Some preliminary research has also shown vinegar to be effective in managing post-meal blood sugar levels.
When shopping for condiments, try looking for avocado oil mayonnaise, unsweetened ketchup, low–sodium mustard and salsa, as well as low-sodium tomato sauce and vegetable broth.
Spices and Little Extras
Diabetes and hypertension are often diagnosed simultaneously. It’s important to keep sodium low when cooking, salt-free spice blends are a great way to do that.
Pickles, olives and sun-dried tomatoes are low-carb (though some are high in sodium) options when your blood sugar may be high or medications warrant a lower-carb snack.
Grains, Cereals and Breads
Quinoa can be a nutritious rice replacement. It has more fiber and protein making it less likely to spike blood sugar levels.
Pasta is hard for many diabetics. It usually results in a blood sugar spike, even with whole-wheat varieties. Bean-based pastas are ideal for diabetics offering more protein and fiber than traditional pastas.
Steel cut oats and barley are other higher-fiber, lower-glycemic grain options.
Higher-fiber grains like popcorn, high-fiber cereals, whole-grain crackers and low-sugar granola make great snack options when paired with a protein or fat source.
Sandwich rounds are perfect for making sandwiches. Most varieties are thinner than traditional sandwich bread making them more blood sugar friendly.
Beans and Legumes
Canned beans and lentils offer plant-based protein and fiber, and are great for diabetes-friendly meatless meals. Make sure to look for lower-sodium options.
Nuts, Nut Butter and Seeds
Almonds and walnuts are both higher in omega-3s than other nuts and make for great snack options for diabetics.
Pistachios, though not as high in omega-3s, are one of the lowest calorie nuts making them better for weight management.
Both peanut butter and almond butter offer healthy fats and protein—great for topping toast or adding to a yogurt bowl.
Some research has shown, pumpkin seeds are effective in lowering blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes. One theory suggests their high magnesium content may be responsible for this.
Chia seeds and hemp seeds are high in fiber and protein. They’re great for adding a little crunch to everything from yogurt bowls to salads and baked goods.
Canned tuna is great for making quick, protein-rich lunches. Make sure to look for varieties packed in water and low in sodium.
Low Blood Sugar Treatment Options
Unsweetened apple sauce and no-added-sugar juice boxes are perfect shelf-stable, low blood sugar treatment options to keep on hand. Glucose tabs, while effective, are not the most appetizing things, nor are they easy to eat. Apple sauce and juice are easy to consume and raise blood sugars quickly.
About Mary Ellen
Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, is the Registered Dietitian, mom, food blogger, and recipe developer behind milkandhoneynutrition.com. She’s also a type 1 diabetic and firmly believes food should bring us joy, not stress. Mary Ellen makes healthy eating easy, realistic, and most importantly … fun! Visit her website and you’ll find yummy low-sugar, diabetes-friendly recipes the whole family will love … as well as helpful tips, and a little mom humor.