Baking Alternatives for a Diabetic
In 2015, it was estimated that 30.3M Americans have diabetes, which translates to 9.4% of the population according to the American Diabetes Association. With nearly 1/10th of our country monitoring carbohydrates because of their medical condition, there’s not a lot of support for a diabetic who loves to bake.
What are healthy ways to bake while fighting diabetes, or insulin resistance? What are some alternatives to flours, sugars, etc that can produce a healthier baked good?
I am one of the many who battle to increase insulin sensitivity daily. I have a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a collection of abnormalities that is associated with insulin resistance. However, this has not stopped me from making muffins, bars, and all kinds of things I love. Instead, I have learned to add alternative ingredients in the mixer to protect my health.
What a Diabetic Needs to Know About Flour
Flour is a major source of carbohydrates that can spike blood sugars very quickly if not chosen carefully.
Worst Flours For Diabetics
- All-purpose flour (including self-rising flour)
- Cake flour
- Bread flour
- Pastry flour
- White rice flour due to their lack of fiber and high glycemic index.
Better Flour Choices for Diabetics
Flours that would be a better choice for the diabetic are the wheat sources which have not been overly milled or processed and include a good amount of fiber, or are from a non-wheat source. Examples include:
- Whole wheat flour
- White whole wheat flour
- Oats or oat flour
- Almond flour
- Coconut flour
- Semolina flour
- Chickpea flour
- Brown rice flour
- Quinoa flour
Please, note that some of these flours are much dryer than regular flour. Be sure to check the labels for substitution ratios.
How Does Sugar Effect a Diabetic?
Sugar is a direct foe when it comes to diabetes. If sugar is consumed, we know that blood sugar rises. In order to combat intense spikes and crashes, alternative sweeteners are an excellent way to both reduce the calorie content of a baked good and reduce the sugar content. Therefore, slowing down blood sugar rise and falls.
Instead of white sugar, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, maple syrup, or honey, use these sweeteners instead:
- Monk fruit
- Or any other kind of artificial sweetener
These are recognized as safe for human consumption and are specifically designed for the diabetic – it is O.K. to have them!
How to Modify Sweeteners for Recipes
Keep in mind that some sweeteners are typically sweeter than regular sugar, so start with only ½ the amount of sugar called for when using a sweetener like Splenda. Some are a perfect 1:1 substitution, so always check the label of the product as they usually do say how much to substitute in place of regular sugar to achieve the same amount of sweetness.
Is Fiber Good for Someone with Diabetes?
Fiber has been shown to be very protective for diabetics in terms of lowering bad cholesterol, raising good cholesterol, and helping to control blood sugar spikes. Fiber can be easily added into breads, cakes, bars, muffins, etc. Add in flax seeds (6 g of fiber per 2 tbsp) or chia seeds (11 g of fiber per 2 tbsp) for an easy addition of fiber!
For more questions reach out to our Diabetes Education team.
Michelle Yates, RD, LMNT, is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health Lakeside Hospital, specializing in the Medical/Surgical unit & the Oncology unit. She doubles as a dance instructor as well as a master’s student for Health Psychology. Her passions are to help others break free from any negative ideas of food they carry, along with opening their eyes to the joys of “everything in moderation”.