Fitting Bison Into Your Diabetic Diet
As some of you know, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during our pregnancy which was very inconvenient because I love potatoes. We instantly started meal prepping low-carb/keto meals as well as researching everything we could about diabetes and what we could do to still enjoy food.
Through that research, we found a few key things:
It’s easier than you think it is to eat healthily.
Not eating/limiting sugar is actually really good for you.
Limiting carbs in general and replacing them with vegetables is obviously healthier.
You don’t need to eat a pound of potatoes at dinner.
Almond flour ‘bread’ is not actual bread, but almond flour can be used for macaroons which when made/eaten carefully didn’t spike me!
Lean meats, like bison, fish, and skinless chicken are actually fantastic for diabetics.
Trust me, I understand how difficult it may be to suddenly change your lifestyle, but you can still love food safely and in moderation. One of my main concerns, when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (besides the potatoes), was a comment my dietitian mentioned about protein. She noted that I needed to avoid cooking meat in certain ways and avoid certain meats, such as high-fat pork, and reduce my intake of red meats. At the time, I was unable to eat chicken due to a weird food aversion, so my options were limited. However, when I mentioned bison, she told me that it’s a perfect alternative!
** Please talk to your dietician and follow their guidelines/ suggestions. While this blog post is based on research and doctor recommendations, everyone is different and every doctor will endorse what is best for their patients.
What Meats to Eat or Avoid During Diabetes
As explained above, some meats are better than others for diabetics, so here is a quick guide below to help you plan your meals:
Low/no fat, no saturated fat, and typically a low-calorie protein option.
Salmon/fish in general
Full of omega-3 fatty acids and deliciousness.
Low in saturated fat.
Lean cuts of meat (like filet mignon or bison in general!)
No/low visible fats
Full of vitamin D to help better control blood sugar!
Marbled or high-fat red meat
The ‘white fat’ you see in a delicious cut of steak is typically composed of saturated fat which is linked to insulin resistance.
Fried fish, steak, chicken, etc.
Avoid the frier! Fried foods are often higher in calories and carbohydrates.
We advise you to avoid processed lunch meat regardless of if you’re pregnant or diabetic as it’s overly processed, contains nitrates, and is also linked to insulin resistance.
Bacon is not only delicious, but high in saturated fats, extremely processed in most instances, and has been unfortunately linked with cancer as a Group 1 carcinogenic food.
Red Meat and Diabetes
Red meat, such as beef, has been proven to increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes due to its high saturated fat content. Because of this, fatty steaks as offered in traditional beef cattle are not recommended for diabetes and should be eaten in moderation regardless of underlying conditions. That being said, bison has very little fat as it is designated as “wild game”. The American Heart Association says that “Wild game can be lower in fat than animals raised for market”, and bison is already extremely low in fat due to their large muscle mass. As Heather Earls, R.D. and senior director at the American Heart Association’s Midwest Affiliate stated, “Wild game and less common meats such as venison, buffalo, rabbit, emu, ostrich, and pheasant are low in fat and offer new menu ideas for your family, who may be tired of turkey or think of chicken as a chore" (as noted by Karrie Leib). While red meat should be eaten strategically like all other foods, bison alone is a healthy alternative for diabetics.
Why Eat Bison If You’re Diabetic?
Grass-fed meat, such as JJ Bison’s herd, is rich in vitamins and low in calories. For diabetics, the goal is to stay healthy and ensure carbohydrates are at a minimum while increasing vitamins. As Ronald Scheib, MD, FACC notes, game meats like bison are healthier red meats, though you should still eat them strategically. Due to USDA regulations, bison meat sold by United States farmers does not have antibiotics and hormones and is rich in iron, zinc, vitamin B12, omega 3-fats, and much more!
In Washington, an Indian tribe known as the Stillaguamish Tribe welcomed bison into their land to improve their diet after more than 15% suffered from diabetes. According to experts, the members are susceptible to diabetes because their ancestors lost access to food sources such as grass-fed bison when they were removed from their land to reservations. Ervin Carlson noted, “Some of the tribes have gone straight back to buffalo meat, and it has cleaned up their diabetes.” While this is a very specific case, it should be noted that according to Carlson, tribes who switched their diet to buffalo [bison] meat have improved their diabetes. Although the experiment is ongoing, many tribes such as the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe have also turned to revitalizing the bison population to enforce strict diets. Overall, the move towards a leaner, traditional, and healthier meat alternative seems promising for the long-term future of these tribes.
How to Best Cook Bison When You Have Diabetes
According to a study from Harvard Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition, high-heat cooking such as broiling, roasting, and grilling increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Their study followed over 289,000 men and women and found those who ate meats of all kinds cooked at a higher temperature were 1.5 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to their non-high heat counterparts. Those who cooked chicken to “well done” instead of medium-rare, for instance, showed an increased risk of diabetes, whereas those who broiled fish did not have an increased risk. The study found that those who eat fish more often will usually cook fish at a lower temperature, whereas beef and chicken eaters often bbq or roast their food as opposed to pan-frying, boiling, or sauteing their meat.
**It should be noted that there was also an increased risk of weight gain using these methods as well which may have contributed to their diabetic risk and may have not been based on the cooking methods alone.
That being said, this study is far from conclusive, but if you do have diabetes it may be best to cook your meat at a lower temperature on a stove-top rather than roasting the meat in an oven. Fortunately, bison is very lean meat and it benefits from being cooked slower rather than quickly at high heat to break down the muscle content.
What To Do If You’re Diabetic
If you’re diabetic, please do consult with your dietician and doctor regarding the best options for you. Everyone is different and doctors may recommend different solutions. If you would like to try a lean, ‘game’ meat low in saturated fat, and high in vitamins that many utilize to help their diabetes, give us a call and order yours today.
Contact us online, email us at email@example.com, or call us at (443) 252 - 2099 to order your bison today!