Bread is a household grocery staple that provides surprising benefits with each bite. Bread is the base for many tasty meals, such as sandwiches, stuffing and even French toast. However, when managing a diabetes diagnosis, knowing which carbs are okay to eat and if eating bread with diabetes is even allowed can be confusing.
Unfortunately, the number of diabetes diagnoses is on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 11.3% of Americans live with diabetes and around 90-95% have type 2 diabetes. With this condition becoming even more common in the U.S. population, many are likely wondering how to manage a diagnosis.
Related: Nearly 40% of Americans Are Expected to Have Type 2 Diabetes by 2060
Type 2 diabetes means that your body no longer responds normally to insulin, causing insulin resistance and leading to unstable blood sugar levels. Eating carbohydrate foods—like bread—causes a rise in blood sugar. High blood sugar levels can result in even more damaging outcomes, such as heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease, which is why keeping your blood sugar levels in check is essential.
Does this mean eating bread is no longer allowed if you're trying to manage blood sugar?
Don't fret; you can still enjoy a slice of your favorite toast in the morning. As long as you're keeping your blood sugar levels in mind, experts say there's nothing wrong with eating bread when you have diabetes.
"People with diabetes can eat bread as long as it fits either their meal plan or within their carbohydrate counting allowance," says Kitty Broihier, M.S., RD, LD. "In general, that means choosing a slice that has 15 grams of carbohydrates for sandwiches."
To put this into context, two slices of bread equate to between 24 to 30 grams of carbohydrates, and each serving is about 15 grams of carbs. So if you have a sandwich, those two slices would count as two servings. According to the American Diabetes Association, the number of servings you have daily will depend on the individual. To ensure you're managing your blood sugar properly, nail down the number of carb servings with a registered dietitian.
Related: Can You Eat Carbs When You Have Diabetes? What Dietitians Have to Say
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in foods such as bread, particularly those of the whole grain variety. Foods higher in fiber are known for reducing blood sugar spikes, which can benefit those dealing with a diabetes diagnosis.
"The best choice would be a whole grain bread, and preferably one with at least 3 grams of fiber because the fiber will temper how fast the carbs in the bread are absorbed and how much of an impact they have on blood sugar following the meal," says Broihier.
Another way to manage blood sugar levels while eating bread with diabetes is to add in a healthy fat or a lean protein source—both known for slowing down digestion and limiting blood sugar spikes while consuming carbohydrates.
"If you're going to eat bread, it helps to have a protein or fat source with it, which also helps with the glycemic response," says Broihier.
If you're a sandwich lover, foods like avocado, salmon, turkey or chicken breast, hummus, cheese, nut butter and egg are great additions. Adding vegetables, especially those higher in fiber, also helps you manage your blood sugar levels.
If you're looking to find ways to reduce your carb intake with diabetes, an open-faced sandwich could be an easy way to keep the carb count low while also enjoying your favorite food. By the way, open-faced sandwiches are also just a fancy version of toast.
In short, yes. If you have diabetes, you can certainly eat bread, as long as you keep in mind the number of carb servings that particular bread provides. Choosing healthier breads like whole-grain ones with a high fiber count is best for keeping blood sugar levels low. Plus, pairing the bread with a healthy fat or protein source to stabilize blood sugar levels is essential.
Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Bread Every Day