Rice substitutes for diabetics

Rice substitutes for diabetics:

Rice is the integral part of the South Indian lunch menu but with type 2 diabetes, consuming more white rice (1/4 cup equals 15 grams of carbohydrate and being simple carbss) can lead to high blood sugar levels since we obviously cannot stick to just ¼ cup of rice for a meal. Here some ideal rice substitutes that can be eaten in moderation and these also helps to keep the blood sugars in the healthy range. These grains fall into the complex carbohydrate category and when consuming these types of grains, the sugar levels do not tend to rise as quickly as when compared to eating other simple carbs like white rice or other white products.

Brown rice:

Brown rice is not exactly a rice substitute but a good alternative to white rice.  The carbohydrate value of brown rice is the same as white rice but brown rice is loaded with fiber and being a whole grain this does not raise the blood sugar compared to white rice. The fiber also makes us feel full. The cooking process is the same as white rice, though brown rice may take a little longer to cook. Draining the cooking water from the rice, (the traditional method) of cooking rice with lots of water in a pot and draining the water) also helps to control blood sugar raise.

Cracked wheat:

Bigger varieties of cracked wheat like bulgur wheat are ideal when consumed instead of rice. This kind of wheat can be cooked over stove top or in a rice cooker like rice.  For cooking on stove top, boil 2 cups of water in a pot and add in the wheat once the water comes to a boil. Reduce the flame and let it simmer until all the water is evaporated. Fluff the wheat with a fork once it is done.


Due to its mushy texture cooked oats is not such a preferred rice substitute but when cooked the right way, the grains can be full and not too sticky.  Dry roast a cup of oats in a pan under low flame for 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile boil 1-1/2 cup of water in pot and once the water comes to a boil, add the roasted oats and mix once. Cook under medium flame until all the water is absorbed.

Ragi/finger millet:

Ragi mudde recipe: Mix 1 cup of ragi with 1 cup of water until it is a slurry mixture. Meanwhile boil 1 cup of water with a pinch of salt and add the ragi mixture once the water comes to a boil. Keep stirring the mixture until everything comes together.  Knead the mixture into balls by wetting the hand. These go good with any kind of gravies or dhals.  With type 2 diabetes, care should be taken while consuming ragi since it tends to raise the blood sugars for some people. Check the blood sugars 2 hours after consuming and avoid this if the sugars are high.

Pearl millet/kambu:

Pearl millet can also be taken in the form of rotis or porridge (kanji). Pearl millet rice (kambu sadam) can be cooked the same way as rice. Pressure cook the millets (1 cup of millet and 2 cups of rice) for 10 minutes for up to 3 whistles. Any kind of millet can be cooked this way. When trying a new grain, it is better to check the blood sugar 2 hours after consuming to see how our blood sugars react to the new grain.


This super grain is healthy substitute, which are loaded with protein and fiber. Wash the quinoa well before cooking. Boil 2 cups of water or broth and once the water comes to a boil, add the quinoa and let it simmer until the grains are puffed and become transparent. This will take around 10 minutes. Keep cooking until all the water is evaporated.


Barley is also another good low-carb, protein rich rice substitute and can be filling when consumed instead of rice. It can be added in soups, added in salads or made into variety rice like sambar rice, yogurt rice etc. Barley can be cooked in a pressure cooker or on stove top. To cook barley on stove top, boil 3 cups of water in a pot and add 1 cup of barley once the water comes to a boil. Reduce the flame and cook closed for 20-25 minutes until all the water is absorbed and the barley is cooked. Alternatively it can be cooked in the pressure for 15 minutes for up to 3 whistles. The ratio of barley and water is 1:2-1/2.


kitchen queen said...

very useful and informative post for all diabetics Gita and thanks for sharing the same.

Uma Anandane said...

Great Information! Thanks for sharing it Gita :)

Priya Suresh said...

Very informative post and even am trying to add quite often the rice substitutes in my daily menu.

Unknown said...

Hi Gita, that's a great list and a very useful one. I often sub rice with quinoa or bulgur but I can't say I had tried millet "rice" before. Great idea and I must give it a try.

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