After a diabetes diagnosis, your may fear you have to give up your favorite carbohydrate-rich meals like spaghetti and other pastas. Although it's true that you need to keep careful watch over how many carbs, calories and fat you take in, you can accommodate an occasional serving of spaghetti. Make sure your eating is always within the context of a healthy, carb-balanced meal plan and that you are following the advice of your doctor or dietitian. You can also make small changes to your traditional spaghetti dish that make it just as palatable but reduce the impact on your blood sugar.
Is Spaghetti OK?
"The short answer to the pasta question is yes, you can eat pasta," writes registered dietitian Cindy Moore on EatBetterAmerica.com. People with diabetes do not need to give up their favorite spaghetti meals. In fact, it's important to have carbohydrates such as pasta at each meal. The "but" is you must ensure you are adhering the eating plan created by your doctor or dietitian. Spaghetti is "carbalicious," and eating too much can spike your blood sugar. To keep it balanced, be sure to always eat the appropriate amount of carbohydrate servings when you have spaghetti.
Read the Label
The nutrition facts on the spaghetti package will tell you how many carbohydrates are in a serving. A cup of cooked plain spaghetti without sauce has roughly 43 g of carbohydrates. If that's more than your allowance of carbohydrates per meal, you can reduce your portion size, to 1/3 or 2/3 of a cup. Remember that the sauce will add more carbohydrates — close to 18 g for a typical 1/2 cup of tomato-based sauce. In addition, if you make meatballs with carbohydrate-containing items like breadcrumbs, that's an additional carbohydrate source you need to account for.
Choose the Right Pasta
Choosing a healthier pasta may help the effect spaghetti has on your blood sugar. For example, whole-wheat and some fortified pastas contain more fiber than regular white pasta. Fiber can help normalize blood sugar and insulin response to eating. You can also buy brands of pasta designed for diabetics and low-carb dieters.
Make the Dish Carb-Healthier
You might enjoy some modifications to your spaghetti dinner that could make it lower in carbs but just as satisfying. For example, reduce the amount of pasta, and add more of your favorite vegetables to the sauce. Try pouring on extra onions, bell peppers, mushrooms and others to lighten the carb load.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
- National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse; What I Need to Know About Eating and Diabetes; October 2007
- Linus Pauling Institute; Fiber; Jane Higdon; December 2005
- WellWise.org; A Pasta Primer for Those With Diabetes; Kantha Shelke; May 27, 2010
- Joslin Diabetes Center: Carbohydrate Counting 101
- "Diabetes Self-Management"; Diabetes-Friendly Recipes: Individual Baked Spaghetti