A person with diabetes can eat anything, so you can certainly include pizza and Chinese food on your menu. This doesn’t mean you can eat either type of fare with abandon or without consideration of other foods on your menu for the day. Careful planning and balanced nutrition play vital roles in managing symptoms of diabetes.
A balanced diet for a person with diabetes includes essentially the same foods you’d find on a nutritionally sound diet for anyone – a combination of complex carbohydrates, lean protein, fruits, vegetables and dairy. A healthy diet also includes healthy fats such as those found in olive oil, oily fish, almonds and walnuts. A good balance includes obtaining 40 to 60 percent of your daily carbohydrates from carbohydrates, 20 to 35 percent from protein and 20 to 35 percent from fat. To help manage diabetes, you should limit refined carbohydrates and mix your consumption of both refined and complex carbohydrates with other foods.
Pizza crust usually includes a crust made from white flour, a refined carbohydrate. To avoid causing sudden spikes in your blood sugar levels, limit the amount of pizza you eat at any one time. Order thin crust pizza and opt for whole wheat pizza crust when available. Your choice of toppings also proves important in managing diabetes. Cheese, a good source of calcium, contains some sugar. Order a pizza with light cheese. You also need to manage your weight and cholesterol to control symptoms of diabetes. If you want a meat topping, chicken makes a better choice than pepperoni. And if you add a lot of vegetables – tomatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, green peppers, spinach – these complex carbohydrates will help balance out the refined carbohydrates in the pizza crust. The Glycemic Index, a system that rates foods based on their effect on your blood sugar, provides a tool for keeping your pizza as diabetes-friendly as possible.
Chinese food includes choices both favorable and unfavorable to the management of diabetes. Choose dishes that include vegetables and avoid those that include sugary sauces – orange chicken, kung pao chicken, sweet and sour pork. The portions served at Chinese restaurants may prove too large, so plan to share an entrée with a friend or save leftovers for another day. When possible, choose brown rice over white. Brown rice can help lower your blood sugar levels, while white rice can cause unhealthy elevations. Chinese food also tends to include a lot of sodium. Order your food without soy sauce.
Talk to your doctor before adding any new food items to your diet. Your ability to include potentially troublesome foods such as pizza and Chinese food in your eating plan depends on your overall ability to manage symptoms of diabetes. If you need to lose weight, for instance, pizza and some types of Chinese food won’t help. If you’ve been recently diagnosed with diabetes, you might want to stick with safer choices until you learn more about managing diabetes.
- American Dietetic Association, Eat Right: Diabetes and Diet
- American Dietetic Association, Eat Right: Diabetes and Diet: Disease Management and Prevention
- American Diabetes Association: Glycemic Index and Diabetes
- “Archives of Internal Medicine”; White Rice, Brown Rice, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women; Qi Sun et al; June 2010
- Center for Science in the Public Interest, Nutrition Action: A Wok on the Wild Side