Learning to Accept Substitute Foods
Last updated: October 2021
After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it is likely that your doctor or dietician may recommend limiting or eliminating certain foods from your diet. Positive dietary and lifestyle choices can help you manage your diabetes successfully. It may be challenging to let go of certain foods that aren't a good fit for your diet, but luckily, there are substitutions for many of the foods that you cherish.
Feeling emotional attachments to food
If you feel like you have an emotional attachment to certain foods, you are definitely not the only one. Food can be significant for so many reasons. There are cultural foods that might bring you joy, foods that are part of treasured family traditions, and some foods even bring back special memories. You might have a pie recipe that has been passed down from your grandma, or maybe it's a family tradition to go out for ice cream every Friday night. Certain special dishes are served during celebrations and holidays.
How to enjoy your favorite food's substitutes
When it comes down to it, food should bring you joy. It's a blessing to have food to eat, and it's what fuels your body to do all of the incredible things you do in life. However, there may be certain dishes or foods that might not fit in with your diabetes diet right now. That doesn't mean that you fully have to let go of your favorite food, it just means you might have to find a way to make these things fit into your current way of eating.
Examples of foods that can be replaced
Here are some foods that could be considered "substitution foods." These are foods that can take the place of or attempt to mimic different ingredients in certain dishes:
- Sugar alternatives like Stevia, Truvia, and monk fruit extract, in place of real sugar
- Lentil, whole wheat, and chickpea pasta, instead of white flour pasta
- Grain-free or whole wheat bread over white bread
- Riced cauliflower in place of white rice
- Zucchini spirals instead of noodles
- Lettuce leaves instead of buns or wraps
Let go of your expectations about the substitute foods
The first step in accepting substitutes is letting go of expectations. View the substitute as a new food to try, and do your best not to compare it to what it's trying to replace. Substitute foods will likely vary in taste, texture, smell, and even color. You might expect lentil pasta to taste just like your favorite white flour pasta, but in reality, it is not going to.
Focus on the positive aspects of the new food
Instead of reminiscing on how much you miss white bread, try to focus on the positives of finding grain-free bread or whole wheat bread. Give yourself a moment to remember how the original food might have affected you. Did it raise your blood sugar? Did it make you feel tired and sluggish? Focus on how the substitute is a better fit for you.
Old traditions can be made new with substitutes
Lastly, incorporate new substitute foods into old traditions. Try using an alternative sugar for your grandma's pie recipe. Find a sugar-free ice cream you like, and bring it home for your family to share together out on the porch. Experiment with classic holiday and celebration dishes with low glycemic flours and new vegetables. Flour-free chocolate cake, anyone?
What are some foods that you have let go of or limited? Have you found any great substitutions that you enjoy?
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