Once you learn that you have diabetes, you start paying very close attention to everything you eat. Every choice you make has to promote and sustain your good health. According to the American Diabetes Association, your meals should include foods from each of six essential food groups: non-starchy vegetables, milk, fruit, meat and meat substitutes, fat, and grains and starchy vegetables. Yes, diabetics can eat rice.
Depending on the plan you work out with your health-care team, your meals are built around a specific amount of carbohydrates. Carbs are what cause blood sugar to rise. The more consistent you are in your carb intake, the more stable your blood sugar levels will be. Doctors generally recommended that women eat 45 to 60 grams of carbs per meal and that men get 60 to 75, diabetes educators Patti Geil and Tami Ross write in their book "What Do I Eat Now?" Ideally, you will get those carbs from fruits, vegetables, dairy products and grains, such as wheat, barley and rice.
Including Rice in Your Diet
One serving of cooked rice equals half a cup, which contains about 15 grams of carbs. If your allowance for carbs is 45 to 60 grams per meal, you can certainly eat a half-cup of rice. Just be mindful of the vegetables, fruits, and dairy you might also be eating at that meal — they will have carbs you need to include in your quota, too. You can eat your rice as a side to your main course, or perhaps as an ingredient in a dessert. You can even include it in a bowl of broth as a satisfying first course.
The less processed your grains are, the more fiber and nutrients they contain. Unless your health-care team has told you not to eat white rice, you can choose white or brown. However, brown rice is a healthier choice for everyone, not just diabetics. The fiber in whole grains such as brown rice is contained in the hull, or coating on the grain. This fiber slows down the breakdown of the rice into sugars during the digestive process. This has a double benefit: Your blood sugar is less likely to shoot up, or spike, from the carbs in the rice, and you will expend more calories digesting the fiber.
Some commonly held ideas about diabetes and food are misconceptions. Well-intentioned family members and friends will tell you you can never eat sugar or sweets again, that you have to skip the rice, bread and potatoes. None of this is true. Even though carbohydrate-rich foods do raise blood sugar, you don't have to avoid them completely. In fact, your body needs these foods, along with protein and fat, to function properly.
Restaurants are notorious for serving much too much food. If you order rice at a restaurant, survey the serving objectively. If it's bigger than half a baseball, it's more than half a cup. Chinese restaurants, for example, usually serve at least 1 full cup of rice with an entree. If you've allowed for that full cup in your carbs for that meal, dig in — but if not, measure out the half-cup you planned for and ask the server to remove the rest from the table.
- "What Can I Eat?"; American Diabetes Association; 2010
- "What Do I Eat Now?"; Patti B. Geil, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A, C.D.E., and Tami A. Ross, R.D., L.D., C.D.E.; 2009