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Give Your Carbs a Healthy Makeover - Part II

Read Give Your Carbs a Health Makeover - Part I which covers breakfast and a mid-morning snack!

Carbohydrates have suffered from a bad reputation for long enough! This mighty macronutrient provides the fuel to power through all of life’s moments. While carbohydrates can sometimes elicit fear, they don’t have to negatively affect one’s glycemic control. They are necessary for a healthy and balanced diet. Give your carbs a makeover and reinvent some everyday choices by opting for more whole-grains, unprocessed carbs, and less refined versions of your favorite lunches, snacks, and dinners.

Lunch makeover by reducing refined carbs

How to take a lunch option and make it healthier:

Refined carb meal

  • 2 tortillas (30g)
  • 1/3 cup white rice (15g)
  • ½ cup cooked or canned beans (15g)
  • 1 cup raw romaine (1.5g)
  • 3 oz shrimp (0g)
  • 1 oz mozzarella cheese (0g)
  • 4 fluid oz of fruit drink (15g)

Healthier carb makeover meal

  • 3 cups romaine to replace tortillas (5g)
  • 1/3 cup brown rice (15g)
  • ½ cup cooked or canned beans (15g)
  • ½ cup raw tomato (2.5g)
  • ½ cup cooked onions (5g)
  • ½ cup cooked baby corn (5g)
  • 1 oz mozzarella cheese (0g)
  • 3 oz shrimp (0g)
  • 8 fluid oz flavored seltzer water (0g)

Carb info: Highly refined carb meal= 76.5g; Healthy carb makeover= 47.5g

Tip: Understand how your body responds to different foods and amounts by monitoring blood sugar levels after a meal. This value is directly correlated with heart disease risk.

Mid-afternoon snack attack

How to take a mid-afternoon snack option and make it healthier:

Refined carb snack

  • 1 granola (3/4 oz) or snack bar (15g)
  • 1 cup sugar-coated cereal (30g)

Healthy carb makeover snack

  • 2/3 or 6 oz plain Greek yogurt sprinkled with Stevia (12g)
  • 8 almonds (0g)
  • 1 small or 4 oz banana (15g)

Carb info: High carb meal= 45g; Healthy carb makeover = 27g

Tip: Skip the generic store-bought granola bars that come packed with a lengthy ingredient list and refined sugars. Minimize selections that contain corn syrup, tapioca syrup, fructose, and dextrose. These are examples of the common added sugar culprits! Instead, opt for a choice that has a simple list of foods that you can identify. Or, create your bars using ingredients that you can feel good about eating! Try wholesome energy sources like rolled oats, ground flax seeds, dark chocolate, and nuts, sweetened with dates or raisins for long-lasting fuel to power through even the busiest day.

Dinner makeover by reducing refined carbs

How to take a dinner option and make it healthier:

Refined carb meal

  • 6 oz grilled chicken (0g)
  • ½ cup long-grain white rice (22g)
  • ½ large corn on the cob (15g)
  • ½ cup roasted broccoli (5g)
  • 4 tbsp BBQ sauce (20g)
  • 2 tbsp honey (30g)

Carb makeover meal

  • 3 oz grilled chicken (0g)
  • ½ cup boiled sweet potato (15g)
  • ½ large corn on the cob (15g)
  • 2 tbsp tzatziki sauce (0g)
  • ½ cup roasted Brussel sprouts (5g)
  • ½ cup roasted broccoli (5g)

Carb info: High carb meal = 92g; Healthy carb makeover = 40g

Tip: While condiments, sauces, and spreads add flavor to your favorite dish, they are also a sneaky refined carbohydrate-containing culprit. Be mindful of refined options such as jams, jellies, ketchup, salad dressing, hoisin sauce, and pasta sauce. Instead, season your food with nature’s best! Herbs and spices are a delicious way to pump up the flavor of any dish yet skip unwanted refined carbohydrates.

A carbohydrate makeover is all about finding the right balance between refined and whole unprocessed options. That being said, strive for progress, not perfection! Maximize sustainability by making small yet meaningful changes, one step at a time. For a more individualized approach, work with a registered dietitian to strategize a healthful balance of carbohydrates that can promote glycemic control.

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