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 many more than you think they should. 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 and turns it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Hard alcohol doesn’t have any sugar because the yeast eats of all it (which produces that high alcohol content!), but if you add juice or soda, make sure to account for the carbs. Wine, beer, and cider naturally have some sugar, but can vary in amounts depending on the style. 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 test your blood sugar to see how you react! Check out this post for more details on diabetes and alcohol.
Milk of all kinds
Milk or milk products like yogurt can also be a shock. Lactose is a sugar and it will get converted into glucose if you drink it(remember the "-ose" rule?). Not even skim milk is safe. There are some ultra-filtered kinds of milk on the market that remove much of the lactose, or even all of the lactose, but you might have to look a bit harder to find them. Nut and grain milk may seem safe because they don’t have lactose, but many have additional added sugar. Plus, any starchy carbs that are in these kinds of milk may end up in the final product. Read the labels carefully!
Americans often think of peas as a vegetable, 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. Corn is another sneaky one.
Tomatoes are great. But 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 sugar and make a flavor that’s even better than store-bought. The same thing applies to many sauces. Most barbecue sauces have some amount of sugar in them. Honey mustard obviously has it. If you must have the flavor, measure out your portion and be sure to include the carbohydrate amount in your meal total.
Always remember, sugar-free doesn’t mean carb-free! A lot of snacks say that have low or no sugar but they can still have a lot of starches and those still raise your numbers. Another surprising source of sugar is protein bars. Just because it’s a high-protein bar doesn’t mean it doesn’t also have carbs. Many of these are marketed to athletes who need extra carbs after their workout.
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!