Diabetes-Friendly BBQ and Summer Eating Tips

June 19, 2012
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As summer heats up, we turn our attention to weekend barbeques, picnics, and outdoor celebrations. For those with diabetes, making healthy food choices — even while on vacation and at summer parties — is key to staying healthy, feeling energized, and managing your diabetes.

As summer heats up, we turn our attention to weekend barbeques, picnics, and outdoor celebrations. For those with diabetes, making healthy food choices — even while on vacation and at summer parties — is key to staying healthy, feeling energized, and managing your diabetes.

Luckily, options abound for diabetic-appropriate eating at BBQ’s and outdoor parties during the summer months.

“If you have diabetes, you don’t have to eat special foods or be excluded from what ‘everyone else’ is eating, says EatingWell.com nutrition editor and author Joyce Hendley. Current guidelines for diabetes are, in fact, the same as those for the population at large. “Everyone else,” says Hendley, “should be taking their cue from what’s on your plate.” So rest assured you can enjoy delicious, fresh recipes and menus all season long.

Knowing how to create a well-balanced meal in different situations is key to maintaining regular blood sugar levels.  Here are some tips from the National Diabetes Education Program on how to eat healthy and still enjoy everything summer has to offer:

  • Go Lean – Skip the fried chicken and opt for lean grilled meats such as grilled chicken breast, a turkey burger, or fish. When choosing meat dishes limit your portion to the size and thickness of a deck of cards.
  • Go Green – Slap some veggie kabobs on the grill or cook up sliced vegetables in foil for a low-carb, low-fat entree alternative. Dishes with dark green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and kale are nutritional all-stars and perfect to sub-in as side dishes. Raw veggies with hummus or low-fat dip are great for snacking.
  • Have a Protein Fiesta – Scout out high fiber foods such as dried beans and lentils. Dishes with green beans, black beans, and black-eyed peas are always good choices, as are whole grain foods such as brown rice, couscous, and whole wheat bread and pasta.
  • Say No to Mayo – Save yourself loads of fat and calories by simply holding the mayo. Instead add flavor to your buns with tomato slices, bell peppers, or low-calorie mustard. Try to avoid mayo-based dips, salads, and sauces. Keep your intake of mayonnaise-based dishes such as dips, salads and sauces limited.
  • Identify the secret sauce – Keep in mind that barbecue sauces often contain added sugar. Barbecued chicken with extra sauce or baked beans with brown sugar can spike your sugar intake. Recipes with cream cheese are often high in fat. If you suspect that a homemade recipe has lots of fat or calories, it’s best to pass and go for the fruits and vegetables.
  • Say Hello to H2o – It’s imperative to stay hydrated during hot months, especially when attending events at the height of the day.  Summer drinks such as soda, fruit juices, lemonade, and alcoholic beverages can be very high in sugar and throw you off balance. Instead, stay hydrated with water or another non-caloric beverages such as unsweetened iced tea, sparkling water, or mineral water. For extra flavor, try making your own batch of fruit infused water.

Check out more fresh, healthy summer recipes!

If you are attending a party, try to stick to your routine. For those who take insulin, eating at your usual mealtime can help maintain steady blood sugar levels. You can also offer to bring a dish of salad greens or fruit to share. Not only will it show you are a courteous, thoughtful guest, you’ll be certain that there’s something healthy for you to eat.

To top off the occasion, treat yourself to a fruity dessert. This is a great opportunity to get in some of your daily fruit intake and let’s face it – what’s summer without delicious watermelon or strawberries? Desserts such as pies and cookies are not off limits, but limit your portion size to a small taste and indulge only after filling up on healthier options.

What tip have you found most useful for managing your diabetes during the summer months?  

 

 

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