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Ask Dr. Gourmet

As a type 2 diabetic, which is better for me: grits or oatmeal?

I have been eating grits instead of oatmeal because it stays with me longer than oatmeal. The main reason I switched from oatmeal is because it has more sugar in it then grits does. I am a type 2 diabetic and I have been trying to lower my blood sugar as best as I can.

Although I have heard that oatmeal is better than grits for someone with type 2 diabetes, I am not convinced. The only way to give oatmeal any flavor without adding some sweetener to it seems to be impossible. Now I admit I do like oatmeal. I started an oatmeal for breakfast routine back sometime last year, which was ok, but it did not stay with me very long before I wanted something else in between to get me through to lunch time. I welcome suggestions if you can give me.

Dr. Gourmet Says...

fresh corn on the cob, dried corn, and ground cornmeal

This is a great question. We know that higher fiber foods can be beneficial in helping control blood sugar. The prototype of that is oatmeal, and if I had a nickel for every time a physician said to a diabetic, "Eat oatmeal for breakfast," I would retire today. We physicians don't recommend grits very often and I think that's because they have been refined. Note, also, that grits are more calorie dense than oatmeal (all measures are for grits or oats before cooking).

1/4 cup grits = 144 calories & 1.8 grams fiber
1/4 cup oats = 77 calories & 2.0 grams fiber

The key here is that if you like them, grits are OK, but you should be careful with the portion size. Another tip is to consider moving toward yellow grits. The less refined cornmeal will have more fiber and more nutrients. Look for coarse ground or stone ground yellow grits / cornmeal.

1/4 cup cornmeal = 110 calories & 2.2 grams fiber

You'll get better "grit" flavor, fewer calories, and more fiber.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet