Have you ever had something to eat or drink and were surprised by high blood sugars afterward? Congratulations! You found a source of surprise carbs!
A lot of people new to diabetes don’t know some of the foods that have that special ‘gotcha’ inside. Heck, a lot of seasoned vets of diabetes stumble upon these unfriendly surprises from time to time, too! Most foods contain some carbohydrates, but some have more than you realize. Here are some to keep an eye out for that you may not have known about.
You might know from science that yeast eats sugar which then turns it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Hard alcohol doesn’t have any sugar because the yeast eats all of it (which produces that high alcohol content!). If you add juice or soda to hard alcohol though, make sure to account for the carbs. Wine, beer, and cider naturally have some sugar, but can vary in amounts depending on the type. If you drink alcohol and want to keep the sugar low, stick to dry wines or hard liquor mixed with low or sugar-free mix-ins like soda water and lime. Then check your blood sugar to see how you react! Check out this post for more details on diabetes and alcohol.
2. Milk of all kinds
Milk or milk products like yogurt can also be a shock. Lactose is a type of sugar that gets converted into glucose when you consume it (remember the "-ose" rule?). Choosing a lower fat or fat free milk product will change the fat and calories, but the carbohydrate content will remain the same. Lactose-free milk options may seem like a better choice, but still contain carbohydrates. Non-dairy milk, like almond or soy milk, seem safe because they don’t have lactose, but many have additional added sugar. Be sure to read the labels carefully!
Americans often think of peas as a vegetable due to their green color, but they aren’t like other vegetables. They are legumes, which means they have a lot of carbs. That split pea soup might feel all warm on a winter day, but it’s also raising your blood sugar. Be sure to monitor your portion size of this starchy vegetable!
4. Tomato products
Tomatoes are delicious and a great source of nutrition. However, many processed foods using tomatoes are full of sugar. Tomato sauce, ketchup, and spaghetti sauce often have added sugar. Instead of buying them from the store, why not learn how to make these at home? You can avoid the added sugar and create a flavorful and delicious product that is better than any store-bought variety. The same thing applies to many sauces, such as barbeque sauce, which also has a large amount of added sugar. If you must have the flavor, measure out your portion and be sure to include the carbohydrate amount in your meal total.
5. Sugar-free products
Always remember, sugar-free doesn’t mean carb-free! A lot of snacks claim to have less or no sugar, but they can still have a lot of starches that will still impact your blood glucose. Another surprising source of carbs is protein bars. Many of these are marketed to athletes who need extra carbs after their workout. Make sure to read the label!
Now you know
We've only listed a handful of things here to get you started, but there are more out there. Keep an eye on those labels, know the major culprits of hidden carbs, and consider yourself better armed against nasty sugar surprises!