Family Health

Grocery Shopping With Diabetes: How to Buy Canned Goods

Oct 16 • 2018
Grocery Shopping With Diabetes: How to Buy Canned Goods

Build a Healthy Diet for Less With Canned Goods

Many people who have diabetes want to prepare nutritious, home-cooked meals. However, high costs at the grocery store can interfere with your efforts to buy healthy options. If you’re wondering how to navigate the grocery store on a diabetes diet, try spending more time in the canned goods aisle. Consider these tips from Jennifer Reed, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with the Baptist Diabetes Education Center.

1. Follow Your Budget

While many shoppers know fruits, vegetables and protein are key to a balanced diabetes-friendly diet, they struggle to stay within budget. According to Reed, there is a misconception among shoppers that canned food isn’t healthy even though it’s affordable.

“One question dietitians get all the time is, ‘Should I buy fresh, frozen or canned?’” said Reed. “They are all nutritionally the same. They all have good nutritional value. It really comes down to economics and what you can afford.”

Canned goods, such as low-carb fruit and high-protein beans, offer the nourishment you need to eat healthy at a lower price point.

“When it comes to fruits and vegetables—sometimes canned is the more economical option, especially if you are shopping for a diabetic diet,” said Reed.

2. Pay Attention to Serving Sizes

The amount of food inside a can or glass jar can be misleading. To plan smarter, healthier meals for you and your family, it’s important to understand how food is packaged.

“Always make sure you’re looking at the label for the serving size,” said Reed. “A large can may actually contain four-and-a-half servings. Even if the fruit can says no sugar added or it’s in its own juice as opposed to a heavy syrup, portioning is key. We have to pay attention to how much we’re eating.”

In addition to gathering information about serving size, diabetes patients should also take a few extra minutes to compare the calories, sugars and carbohydrates in canned food items. Generally, food brands also offer low-carb, no-sugar added and low-sodium alternatives.

3. Select Low-sodium Options

Although canned goods are an excellent option for people who have diabetes, these items often contain more sodium than fresh or frozen foods. It’s important to check the sodium content in canned goods and processed foods, such as tomato sauce, soups, condiments and prepared mixes.

“Sodium acts as a preservative in canned goods,” said Reed. “It helps prevent food from spoiling, but it also can increase your blood pressure. Many people with diabetes have high blood pressure and diabetic kidney disease. The recommended sodium intake for all Americans right now is about 2,300 milligrams per day. If a person with diabetes has decreased kidney function, the recommendation is 2,000 mg.”

There are a few ways diabetes patients can avoid adding sodium to their diets.

“When you’re choosing canned vegetables, the thing you want to look for is low sodium,” said Reed. “If you can’t find a low-sodium option, before you cook it you can rinse it off and then add it to fresh water.”

Diabetes Management at Baptist Memorial Health Care

The Diabetes Education Center at Baptist Medical Group’s Outpatient Care Center not only offers individual assessments and medical nutrition classes for people with diabetes, but also food boxes for newly diagnosed patients who have Medicare, Medicaid or no insurance.

“We recently collaborated with the Mid-South Food Bank to provide nonperishable food items to the diabetes population,” said Reed. “The goal is to offer nutritious options for families, children and seniors.”

Diabetes patients also can attend counseling sessions at Baptist locations across the Mid-South to learn how to manage their blood sugar and improve their overall health. To learn more budget-friendly shopping tips for eating healthy with diabetes, watch the video below.

Explore the Diabetes Management webpage to learn more about diabetes management programs and services at Baptist. Find a doctor by visiting our Find a Physician page.