When you have diabetes, eating out can seem more complicated than deciphering the new tax code. But it doesn’t have to be.
“People with diabetes can enjoy most any kind of restaurant,” says Jill Weisenberger, RDN, CDE, author of Diabetes Weight Loss Week by Week. “The key is to stick as closely to your usual meal plan as possible.” Here’s how.
(Find out how to stop the craving cycle before it starts and burn fat around the clock with the naturally sweet, salty, and satisfying meals in Eat Clean, Lose Weight & Love Every Bite.)
If you’re going out for: Pizza
Worried about all that crust? Go with one slice of thin crust pizza and you’ll lighten the carb count of your slice by a third compared to a regular slice. If a single slice sounds too skimpy, pump up the volume—and the fiber—by adding plenty of chopped veggies. And speaking of veggies, filling up on a salad before your pie arrives can also put the breaks on hunger.
MORE: Healthy Pizza Toppings You Haven’t Tried—But Totally Need To
These pita pizzas will totally change the way you think about dinner:
If you’re going out for: Italian
“Given that pasta is packed with carbohydrates, it’s probably not the best idea to make it the center of your meal,” says Weisenberger. Just one order of spaghetti and meatballs can easily pack 150 grams of carbs.
That doesn’t mean you have to go 100% pasta-free though. Weisenberger recommends ordering pasta as a side dish and limiting your portion to a half-cup, or about the size of a tennis ball. Pair it with an order of mussels fra diavolo, chicken cacciatore, or grilled calamari. (And make sure you try these 6 ways to make Italian food flat belly-friendly!)
If you’re going out for: Chinese
If you’re eating Chinese food, chances are there’s going to be rice on your plate. And if that rice is white, be prepared for a major blood sugar spike. White rice is so troublesome that one study found that for each serving a person ate per day, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes jumped by 11%.
Since Chinese food just isn’t, well, Chinese food without rice, go with a half-cup of the brown variety. It’s a good source of magnesium, a mineral that helps your body use insulin more efficiently. As for the rest of your plate, Weisenberger recommends starting your meal with either hot and sour soup or steamed dumplings, and following it with a main dish of moo goo gai pan or steamed fish and veggies.
MORE: 7 Clean Chinese Recipes That Are Way Tastier Than Takeout
If you’re going out for: Japanese
Sushi might seem like it’s fair game, but remember: It’s wrapped in rice. Brown rice sushi can be a better bet, but you’ll still want to keep tabs on its carb count. The only way to know for sure is to choose a restaurant that makes their nutrition stats available. If that’s not possible, stick with a smallish order of six pieces or, better yet, opt for an order of carb-free sashimi with a side of edamame for a healthy dose of blood sugar-leveling protein.
If you’re going out for: Mexican
You know those giant tortillas Mexican restaurants use to wrap your burrito? Each one packs a humongous 50 grams of carbs. And that’s not even counting the additional 40 grams you’ll get from a hefty filling of rice. Why not skip the tortilla and rice entirely and try a bean-rich burrito bowl instead? Beans boast a low glycemic index, meaning they’re slowly digested so they won’t cause your blood sugar to skyrocket. They’re so blood sugar-friendly that one recent study found people who ate a cup of beans a day for three months reduced their A1C (a measure of long-term blood sugar control).
If burrito bowls aren’t your thing, try grilled fish tacos or chicken fajitas, and ask for 6-inch corn tortillas. They have 28% fewer carbs than flour tortillas.
MORE: 13 Best Things To Order At A Mexican Restaurant, According To Nutritionists
If you’re going out for: Steak
If you have diabetes, your doctor has probably already told you to steer clear of saturated fat-heavy foods like steak, burgers, and lamb chops. That’s because people with type 2 diabetes are up to four times more likely to die of heart disease than those with normal blood sugar. But there are still plenty of healthy—and tasty—options on steakhouse menus like shrimp cocktail, roast chicken, grilled salmon, or even lobster (just go easy on the drawn butter!). Order any of these plus a salad along with a side of asparagus, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts. (Don’t mess up your steak by making one of these mistakes.)
If you’re going out for: Greek
When you’re watching your blood sugar, Greek food can offer the best—or the worst—of dining out. Thumbs up to lean, low-carb chicken souvlaki, Greek salad, giandes (a yummy Greek-style version of baked beans), and avegolemono (a.k.a. chicken orzo soup). And avoid those fatty favorites like gyros, moussaka, spanakopita, and fried calamari.
MORE: 7 Clean, High-Protein Salads To Make Over The Weekend And Pack For Lunch All Week Long
If you’re going out for: Indian
From oily fried samosas to rice-based entrees, Indian food can seem like a major minefield. Your strategy: Load up on lean protein. Lentil soup (these legumes are perfect for keeping blood sugar steady), dal (lentil stew), and chana masala (spicy chickpeas) are all winners. If you’re craving something meatier, choose the tandoori chicken. It’s marinated in a light, spicy yogurt sauce and then grilled. What could be healthier than that?
Please see more list about Best chinese food dishes for diabetics