For many people, the little extras like salad dressing, ketchup, mayo, mustard, relish or salsa can deepen and expand the flavor of food. But, if not used carefully, some condiments and sauces might also bankrupt calorie, carbohydrate, fat and sodium budgets. And worse yet, some barbecue sauces, ketchups, and salad dressings may be loaded with high fructose corn syrup and artificial color.
This is not to say condiments must be avoided entirely – it’s more a matter of quantity and quality. Here are five tips for putting together a diabetes-friendlier assortment of condiments. (Be sure to check with your diabetes care team before making any changes to your meal plan.)
1. Control your amounts
Some condiments, when used sparingly, provide relatively little calories, fat or carbohydrates. For example, 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard contains 9 calories, just under 1 gram of carbohydrates and 166 milligrams of sodium; the same amount of ketchup has 17 calories, about 4½ grams of carbs and 154 milligrams of sodium. If not used thoughtfully, they can start to add up. A painless way to cut even more calories, carbs and sodium: Use half of the desired amount and add water or vinegar to taste.
When dining out, don’t hesitate to make a special request. Ask for all condiments – including salad dressings and barbecue sauce – on the side so you can control how much to use. Condiments such as ketchup, duck sauce and soy sauce that come with takeaway or delivery orders should be limited to one packet – which is approximately one tablespoon. Or you can ask that the condiments be omitted and use your own.
2. Check the ingredients
Reading the ingredient list on the food label is key to finding out what might be lurking in some condiments. Ingredients used in the greatest amounts are listed first, followed by those used in smaller quantities. Added sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup can be found – sometimes as the first ingredient –in ketchup, honey mustard, sweet relish and many salad dressings. You may also find artificial color in salad dressings, honey mustard and other condiments. Always refer to the label on the bottle or other packaging for the most complete and accurate ingredient information.
3. Consider organic
When you are shopping for condiments, you may want to opt for organic varieties. Typically, organic condiments don’t have artificial colors or high fructose corn syrup added to them. They may, however, have added sugar and be high in fat and sodium. Be sure to read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel.
4. Reduce it
Choose “light,” “reduced-fat,” “low calorie,” or “fat-free” salad dressing and mayonnaise; the calorie difference may be significant. Regular salad dressing has 94 calories per tablespoon compared to 13 calories in fat-free dressing. But be aware that some of these dressings may have up to 2.5 grams of carbohydrates more per tablespoon compared to their regular counterparts. Condiments such as soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, chili sauce and marinades may be high in sodium. Look for “reduced-sodium” varieties. Be sure to read the nutrition label.
5. Make your own
Save money and worry by preparing your own diabetes-friendlier salad dressing. Mix 3 parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice or vinegar, then add salt and pepper to taste. Experiment with herbs and spices to change the flavor. Keep a variety of vinegars on hand to pair with oils. Red wine, herb, apple cider and fruit-flavored vinegars can add new zest to your favorite salad.
Add fat-free flavor to your burgers or scrambled eggs with homemade ketchup. If you prefer a more savory topping, try this rich homemade barbecue sauce. No worries about high fructose corn syrup or artificial color, and the sodium content is less than store-bought versions.
It’s been said that Americans eat more salsa than ketchup. Salsa is low in calories and bursting with flavor. Thanks to chili peppers, traditional salsas range from mild, medium or hot. This salsa recipe calls for one large jalapeño pepper to experiment with to determine a preferred level of spiciness.
Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE*, CDN – an award-winning registered dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, and former spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – is the author of The African American Guide to Living Well with Diabetes and Eating Soulfully and Healthfully with Diabetes. Learn more about her work at constancebrownriggs.com and follow her @eatingsoulfully. Brown-Riggs is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
*“Certified Diabetes Educator” and “CDE” are certification marks owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services.
© 2016 The DX: The Diabetes Experience