Condiments enhance the flavor of any meal. They add flavor, color, juiciness, texture, and visual appeal. Whether it’s a sauce or spread, dip or dressing, pickle or preserve, condiments complement the food on the plate.
But it’s easy to forget that not all condiments are “free.” They do contain calories and carbohydrates that need to be factored into your nutritional meal planning.
Examples of those that don’t contain any carbs may include lemon or lime juice, flavored vinegar, and dill pickle relish. Yet the most common condiments do have carbs and need to be considered when meal planning.
For people with any type of diabetes, paying attention to condiments is an important part of managing a meal plan and knowing how they affect our blood glucose levels.
Condiments mostly contribute carbohydrates and fat to what you’re eating. Both of these macronutrients have a direct effect on glucose levels, either by breaking down into glucose or by slowing digestion — both of which affect your blood sugars
That’s why it’s helpful to understand how many grams of carbohydrates and fat are in any condiments eaten. For store-bought condiments, the
If you don’t have a specific brand in mind but want to get a sense of the general nutritional information for a condiment, the website NutritionalValue.org has a searchable database of nutritional information presented as Nutritional Facts labels.
Unless there’s a specific diagnosed medical reason, like an allergy or gluten intolerance, no food is forbidden under
Yet, actively managing the amount of carbohydrates and fat you eat is an important part of managing diabetes, according to the
If you have diabetes, this means you need to choose when to eat a particular food or condiment, how much of it to eat, and whether to eat a substitute instead.
Yes, a person with diabetes can eat mayonnaise.
Mayonnaise has less than a single gram of carbohydrates per tablespoon. But with 10 grams of total fat (1.6 grams of that coming from saturated fat) it can be considered high fat. So you may want to limit the amount of mayonnaise you eat or find an alternative.
Here are a couple of alternatives to consider:
- Raw avocado, which has just under a single gram of carbohydrates and 1.5 grams of total fat in a tablespoon
- Plain, low fat Greek yogurt, which has 0.4 grams of carbohydrates and 0.2 grams of total fat in 10 grams
Mustard comes in a lot of varieties, from standard yellow to spicy brown. Generally, it is low in carbohydrates and adds a lot of flavor without driving blood glucose levels up.
Even so, because of the variety of ingredients that can go into mustard, it’s important to check the nutritional information for the specific mustard being used.
A tablespoon of prepared yellow mustard contains 0.6 grams of carbohydrates per serving of 10 grams, or 1 tablespoon. Dijon mustard, spicy brown mustard, and whole grain mustard all have 0 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon. However honey mustard dressing has 3.6 to 6.0 grams of carb in each tablespoon serving.
No-sugar-added ketchup is also available. It contains only 10 calories and 1 gram of carb per serving, which makes it a great alternative for people living with diabetes.
With soy sauce, the concern is not with carbohydrates (less than 1 gram per tablespoon) but rather sodium (salt). A single tablespoon of regular soy sauce packs in 879 milligrams of sodium. That’s 38% of the daily allowance for someone eating 2,000 calories per day.
Some people use Worcestershire sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos as substitutes because they have 0 carbs. There are also lower sodium versions of soy sauce. But all these versions of soy sauce still contain a large amount of sodium per tablespoon.
People with diabetes, just like many people across the world, often turn to different spices to add some extra flavor or character to what they’re eating.
Spices are OK for people with diabetes. In fact,
Much like anything consumed, the calorie and carb count of any condiment or spice remains an important factor.
The big advantage to using homemade sauces, spreads, dips, dressings, pastes, and more is that you know the ingredients and amounts that went into making them.
There are no hidden ingredients to cause surprise blood glucose spikes. And you have the opportunity to substitute ingredients that are more glucose-management-friendly.
Sometimes sauces are looked at with suspicion, especially when the ingredients aren’t known. It can be difficult to know the amount of carbohydrates (or sodium or fat) and anticipate the effect on glucose levels.
The possibilities seem endless.
Condiments are not off-limits for people with diabetes. Yet, the same as any food or drink, they can contain calories and carbohydrates and must be factored into meal planning.
The condiments we choose can affect glucose levels, which play a big role in diabetes management. Making sure you know the nutritional information in any condiment — including carbohydrates, fat, and sodium — is key to deciding what’s best for you.