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Can diabetics eat lasagna?
For diabetics, watching what one eats becomes more than just having a healthy lifestyle but rather a matter of life and death. Foods that are high in calories and carbs are likely to send your blood sugars into overdrive.
Generally, processed foods don’t go hand in hand with diabetes. They are known to cause rapid spikes in insulin. When carbohydrates undergo digestion, they are turned into glucose or simple sugar. Therefore foods rich in carbs are dangerous for diabetics, especially ones that undergo fast digestion. Foods that undergo fast digestion
cause rapid spike in blood sugar, followed by extremely low blood sugar.
Lasagna is comfort food that most people enjoy eating. However, traditional lasagna is considered unhealthy. Lasagna is generally white noodles filled with fatty ground meat and cheese. It is an Italian delicacy that many people have taken up.
A diabetic will have one look at lasagna and immediately discredit it as a healthy food. I mean there is nothing healthy about the number of calories, sodium, and saturated fats that lasagna tends to contain.
So, can a diabetic eat lasagna? Yes but will have to make adjustments and replace certain ingredients to make it healthy.
Is lasagna healthy for diabetics?
Lasagna is made out of noodles, rich cheese, tomato sauce, vegetables, and meat. White pasta is a big red flag for diabetics. Pasta made from refined white flour is likely to cause rapid blood sugar spikes, be it spaghetti or lasagna.
Here’s is the nutrient profile for one serving of pasta;
3cups of pasta; 135g carbs and 663 calories
1 cup sauce; 30g and 180 calories
Therefore white pasta is not ideal for diabetics and should be avoided in lasagna. However, whole wheat and some fortified pasta contain some fiber. Whole wheat means that the whole grain was used to make the pasta.
In regular pasta, the manufacturers take off some part of the wheat such as bran to have finer pasta. If using regular white pasta, cook it al dente. Al dente means cooking pasta or rice till they are crisp or still firm to the tooth.
Surprisingly, al dente cooked pasta tastes just like whole-wheat pasta!
Fiber is a great way to slow down digestion and stabilize blood sugar and insulin response to eating lasagna.
There is also pasta in the market made specifically for diabetics or low-carb dieters.
So is lasagna healthy for diabetics? Let’s look at the nutrient profile of lasagna;
- Carbohydrates. Lasagna contains carbohydrates in the form of sugar and starch. Pasta is the main source of carbohydrates in this meal. 2 ounces of white lasagna noodles contain 40g of carbs. Always remember to check the labels to know the carbohydrate content of your lasagna noodles. The rest of the carbs in lasagna comes from the tomato sauce and vegetables.
- Protein and fat. Meat lasagna contains dietary protein and fats. The amount of protein and fat in your lasagna will depend on the amount of meat and cheese you use. For instance, an ounce of meat and mozzarella cheese will add 7.3g fat and 6.8g protein to your email. Ground beef and mozzarella cheese are also sources of saturated fat, therefore not preferable for a diabetic.
- Vitamins, and minerals. Beef is a great source of iron, while pasta, meat, cheese, tomato sauce are all sources of B vitamins. Vegetables further add vitamins to lasagna, for instance, zucchini adds vitamin A.
The lasagna effect
Fatty meals such as pizza and lasagna have a distinct effect on diabetics as compared to other high-carb meals. This is called the lasagna effect on diabetics. When a diabetic eat a high-carb meal such as pasta and sauce accompanied by high-fat cheese and meat controlling insulin becomes a challenge. The fat slows the digestion of these carbs.
Insulin is taken immediately after eating, however, if you take insulin this way after eating lasagna or pizza, you are likely to experience low blood sugar about an hour later.
Thevlasgna undergoes slow digestion, therefore the insulin bolus may peak too early, and when the food is finally been absorbed the bolus is fading.
A rapid-acting bolus insulin starts working 15 minutes after consumption, peaks 45-90 minutes then starts fading in 3-4 hours. Therefore, when the lasagna is finally being absorbed, the bolus is fading, resulting in high blood sugar.
Consult with your doctor on how to schedule your insulin consumption to avoid the lasagna effect.
How to include lasagna in a diabetic diet
When you have made the switch to healthy eating, you need to make a few adjustments to meals so as not to change your entire meal plan. Here’s is how to include lasagna in your diabetic diet;
- Noodles: opt for whole wheat noodles. They contain fiber although the carb content is more or less the same as white noodles. Even when picking gluten-free noodles, be careful with the carb content.
- Meat: opt for extra lean ground beef or bison or ground turkey breast for 40% fewer calories and 65% less saturated fats. You can also go for shrimp0, crab scallops crawfish which have almost half the calorie content of beef. You can also completely avoid meat by using ground meat-style soy crumbles.
- Cheese; use fat-reduced cheese for fewer calories and 50% less animal-based saturated fat.
- Vegetables: use as many vegetables as possible. They add vitamins and add the volume of your lasagna without increasing the carb content drastically. Use vegetables such as mushrooms, spinach, squash, pepper. Cauliflower or zucchini.
Therefore when it comes to the question, can diabetics eat lasagna? Here are the key takeaways;
- Change how you take the rapid-acting bolus insulin after taking lasagna. Taking the medication after meals will result in low blood pressure followed by high blood pressure after 3-4 hours.
- Make adjustments to your lasagna. Use whole that noodles, add more vegetables, use cheese with less saturated fats and calories. Go for ground turkey breast, extra-lean ground beef or go completely meatless with ground meat-style soy crumbles.