Some have a misconception that dining with diabetes means bland, boring
and overly restrictive.
It doesn't have to be so.
In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, I wanted to share how those
living with diabetes can thoroughly enjoy dining out.
Enticing internationally inspired cuisine that also keeps blood sugars
in check is easy to find with a little planning and preparation.
Maintaining a diet with a balance of high fiber, plant-based protein and
whole-grains is an important part of managing diabetes.
Eating this way is not exclusively for people with diabetes, either.
Everyone can benefit from a nutritious diet focused on whole foods, which
can help ward off obesity, heart disease and hypertension.
And it is not as complicated as it may seem. It's simply about knowing
how to order.
Mexican fare, as many of us are accustomed, is often covered in cheese
and drowned in heavy sauces. You would not typically find this Americanized
version in Mexico.
Choosing chicken fajitas, with plenty of veggies, wrapped in a whole-wheat
tortilla, topped with guacamole and salsa, is a healthy alternative.
Chinese food can take a little more finesse to find a meal that won't
spike blood sugar, but there are several vegetable-centric dishes that
favor light and flavorful sauces. Tofu and broccoli with spicy green beans
in a white sauce is ideal for a healthy meal.
Vegetable fried rice made with brown rice is also a good option, but be
sure to request it Chinese-style, which means they'll avoid using
Next up on our tour of healthy international cuisine: Indian food. Spices
like tumeric take center stage with Indian food. Spices add vibrant flavor
and have major health benefits, including reducing inflammation and aiding
My picks start with a pilaf of long-grain brown basmati rice. Brown rice
is always the healthier option over white rice, but a long-grain variety
is even better.
Long-grain rice has a low glycemic index, which means it is broken down
slowly in the digestive tract. Let this diabetes-friendly grain serve
as the starting point, then pair with chana masala — a chickpea-based
dish — or chicken curry. Add a whole grain roti and your meal is complete.
Being diagnosed with diabetes is an opportunity to expand your palate
and rethink your approach to eating. By incorporating a variety of meals
from international cuisine people with diabetes can commit to an eating
plan that is optimal for healthy living while incorporating delicious
flavors from around the world.
The Diabetes Center at Hoag Hospital has dozens of diabetic-friendly recipes
to try at home at hoag.org/Services/Diabetes/Pages/Diabetic-Recipes.aspx.
Dr. Daniel Nadea is the program director of the Mary & Dick Allen
Diabetes Center at Hoag Hospital Memorial Presbyterian and Dr. Kris V.
Iyer endowed chair in diabetes care.