Milk is an essential ingredient to prepare your morning cereal, make your coffee or be able to pass your peanut butter sandwich. But if you have diabetes, don’t forget that this traditional drink also contains carbohydrates, which can affect your blood sugar levels.
A cup of fat-free cow’s milk has about 12 grams of carbohydrates. There is no added sugar, just natural lactose straight from the source. The good news is that there are many non-dairy milks with little or no carbohydrates, such as unsweetened flaxseed milk or almond milk.
However, you can also continue drinking cow’s milk, but for this you will need to test your blood glucose levels before and two hours after to see how much it affects you. Remember, drinking a glass of milk affects everyone differently, so there is no set amount or one ideal type of milk for everyone.
Your best bet is to work out a daily nutrition plan that is right for you with your doctor or registered dietitian/nutritionist.
There are too many options. How can you choose one?
If you live with type 2 diabetes, your dietary needs are specific and require a bit of daily planning. However, you don’t need an advanced math degree to solve this problem.
Follow these general guidelines when it comes to choosing a milk:
- Calcium: Adults ages 19 to 51 need 1,000 mg of calcium per day. A glass of low-fat cow’s milk has around 300 mg. This is one area where some alternative milks may lag behind their dairy rival. Some have only a small fraction of the calcium found in cow’s milk, while others add calcium and vitamin D; check the Nutrition Facts labels.
- Insulin, Blood Sugar, and Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates have the biggest impact on blood sugar. If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, your optimal daily carbohydrate amount may vary. Research shows that limiting your carbohydrate intake to between 25 and 45 percent of calories per day is effective in improving blood sugar control.
If we talk about 1500 calories, it would be 75-150 grams per day; for 2,000 calories, that would be 100–225 grams per day. There is no ideal carbohydrate percentage, and your healthcare team can help you determine the best eating pattern for you.
Other milk options.
Gone are the days when your hardest decision in the milk section of the grocery store was choosing between skim milk and low-fat milk. Now there are more alternative milks than ever. Take a look at some options.
Here are some suggestions for alternative milks you can enjoy.
- Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk: You’ll love the almond flavor and creamy texture in your breakfast cereals or smoothies. You can also enjoy the plain almond milk option with no added sugar.
- Unsweetened Coconut Milk: Creamy coconut milk will give you a tropical flavor and is perfect to add to your coffee. Just keep in mind that coconut milk has a higher fat content than other types of milk.
- Unsweetened soy milk: Try adding this to oatmeal or mixing it into a protein shake as a meal replacement.
- Unsweetened Flaxseed Milk: Flaxseed is packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids. What reasons do you have for not loving her?
The milks to avoid.
The following options shouldn’t necessarily be avoided entirely if your individual carbohydrate and calorie goals allow for a few more grams. But these are considerably more carbohydrate-laden.
Chocolate milk and other flavored milks.
Chocolate milk generally has 8-10 grams of added sugar per serving. Flavored milk can be a nutritious substitute when you want something sweet and can be used in the context of the total amount of carbohydrates per day.
Whole milk is higher in calories and fat. Choosing a low-fat option will give you the same amount of calcium without the need for fat. For those who need to gain a few kilos, this is a good option.
Milk meal planning.
Milk is rich in calcium and can fit into your daily eating plan in a healthy way. You just need to constantly pay attention to nutrition labels and test your blood sugar before and after eating new foods.
Tips for planning meals when you have diabetes.
Some popular methods that you could discuss with your doctor or registered dietitian/ nutritionist include:
Carbohydrate counting: Under this plan, you’ll keep track of the amount of carbohydrates you consume with each meal or snack, and the total for the day. Together with your healthcare team, determine how many carbohydrates you need to consume daily.
A glass of fat-free or low-fat cow’s milk has about 12 grams of carbohydrates, while unsweetened soy milk has only 4 grams per serving. Remember to check the nutrition label for calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals before making a decision.
Plate method: The plate method consists of filling every plate you eat with 25 percent protein and healthy fats, 25 percent complex carbohydrates, and 50 percent vegetables and non-starchy fiber. This can be effective in keeping your blood glucose levels in check. Also consider beverages like milk, which can count as a source of protein and carbohydrates.
Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load: Foods with a high glycemic index or high glycemic load increase blood glucose levels rapidly. A glass of low-fat cow’s milk has a glycemic index of 37 and a glycemic load of 4. Foods and beverages under 55 are considered low on the glycemic index scale.
Milk as a preventive for type 2 diabetes.
There’s a reason your parents tried to make you drink more milk when you were a kid. Drinking milk has some health benefits: It is a rich source of calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and can even help you prevent type 2 diabetes. Research suggests a strong connection between low-fat dairy consumption and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
One large study even found that middle-aged people who consumed milk daily reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by a staggering 12 percent, compared to those who did not drink it. The risk of diabetes decreased as the number of servings per day increased.