If you have diabetes, you want to make every meal count. How well you eat influences your blood sugar control and long-term health. Choosing the best lunch foods for your diabetes will help you feel energized as well as keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day.
The ideal lunch for you depends on several factors. If you’ve worked with your doctor and diabetes educator to develop an eating plan, then you already know how many carb servings you can eat. The right amount of carbohydrates for you is determined by your age, weight, medication or insulin regimen, as well as your blood sugar goals.
In general, one to three carbohydrate servings are a good amount for a meal but talk to your healthcare team for a personalized plan.
Good Lunch Options
Lunch doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy. Keeping it easy for the mid-day meal is usually best as life is often at its busiest at that time of day.
Here are some quick, easy options:
- Two slices of whole-grain bread with a piece of cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a serving of meat. Salad or fresh veggies on the side.
- An open face pesto, mozzarella, and tomato sandwich with a side salad and a piece of fruit.
- Tuna salad with low-carb crackers and fresh veggies with a serving of fruit on the side.
- A large salad with ½ an avocado, two hard-boiled eggs, feta cheese, unlimited fresh vegetables, and sugar-free or low-sugar dressing with one serving of fruit.
- Burrito bowl (see recipe below)
- Whole grain wrap with lettuce, chicken, parmesan, and low-fat caesar dressing. Add fresh vegetables on the side.
- Hummus with fresh vegetables and low-carb crackers for dipping. Add olives and a serving of cheese on the side.
- A bowl of vegetable-based soup with a handful of nuts and a cheese stick on the side.
Using the diabetes plate method is a simple guide to putting together a balanced meal. Focus on your vegetables and lean protein first, and then choose a serving or two of carbs. It’s as easy as that.
A Word On Eating Out
If you are someone who eats out regularly, don’t worry. It’s entirely possible to stick with healthy eating habits at restaurants.
- Skip the french fries or potato chips and ask for a side of fresh or steamed vegetables instead.
- Choose ½ portions of soups or sandwiches and get a side salad or vegetables.
- Opt for a salad with the dressing on the side. Dressing can be a hidden source of added sugar, so bring your own or choose a small portion of a vinaigrette.
- Choose broth-based soups over cream-based.
- Decline the breadbasket.
- Stick with water as your beverage of choice.
Recipe: Week-Long Burrito Bowl
It’s super handy to have a variety of food prepped at the beginning of the week for easy, grab-and-go lunches. Burrito bowls are a flexible option that can use up whatever you have on hand, and it’s easy to get a few items ready on the weekend to use all week long.
Prep Or Gather Ahead of Time
One batch of brown rice
Sauteed peppers (slice and sautee peppers in olive oil until soft and blackened)
Avocados or pre-made guacamole
Salsa (choose a sugar-free or low-sugar brand)
Bean and corn mixture
2 16 oz cans of black beans
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ cup salsa
½ tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
- Drain and rinse the black beans.
- Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add beans, corn, and garlic and heat until warmed.
- Add salsa, cumin, salt, and pepper and allow the mixture to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and cool. Store in the refrigerator for use throughout the week.
Directions for burrito bowls
Place ½ cup rice and ½ cup bean and corn mixture in your bowl. Add the toppings of your choice. Enjoy hot or cold.
Nutrition Information: The bowl’s exact calorie, carbohydrate, and protein content will vary depending on the toppings you choose. The base of each bowl (½ cup rice and ½ cup beans and corn) contains about 45g of carbohydrate.
Supporting Team DETS, Rebecca is a yoga teacher, registered dietitian, and writer. She is passionate about integrative wellness and the intersection of food and movement with the health of the world around us. She lives in Chicago with her husband and two boys. For more of her work, visit www.rebeccastilesrd.com