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Diabetic Food Choices at Chinese Restaurants

author image Natalie Stein
Natalie Stein specializes in weight loss and sports nutrition. She is based in Los Angeles and is an assistant professor with the Program for Public Health at Michigan State University. Stein holds a master of science degree in nutrition and a master of public health degree from Michigan State University.
Diabetic Food Choices at Chinese Restaurants
When you eat Chinese food, focus on vegetables to help regulate blood sugar levels. Photo Credit: rez-art/iStock/Getty Images

The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse reports that about 23.6 million Americans have diabetes. If you have diabetes, your body has difficulty processing carbohydrates from your diet, and your blood sugar levels are high. Many typical menu items at Chinese restaurants are unhealthy for individuals with diabetes, but some choices can be part of a healthy diet to control blood sugar levels. Study the menu and order nutritious items that can fit into your carbohydrate-controlled, healthy diet.

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Keep Carbohydrate Consumption Moderate

Limit your consumption of high-carbohydrate Chinese restaurant foods such as fried rice, steamed rice, chow mein, lo mein and other noodle dishes. The American Diabetes Association suggests that most individuals with diabetes should include 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal to help prevent surges in blood sugar levels. A cup of rice or noodles has 44 to 50 grams of carbohydrates. Vegetables, chicken, fish and tofu are low-carbohydrate options.

Increase Fiber Consumption

Order high-fiber menu items to help control your blood sugar levels. Individuals with diabetes who consume more high-fiber foods, such as whole grains, fruits, legumes and vegetables tend to have better blood sugar control, according to a study published in the January-February 2011 edition of the journal “Endocrine Practice." Ask for extra vegetables in each dish, order brown instead of white rice and eat orange slices instead of sweets to increase your fiber intake.

Avoid Fried Foods

You are at risk for developing heart disease if you have diabetes, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. A healthy diet can help you lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your heart disease risk. Fried foods, such as egg rolls, fried rice, General Tsao’s chicken and fried noodle dishes, are high-calorie and can contain cholesterol-raising trans fats. Steamed vegetables, baked tofu and broiled chicken and fish are lower-calorie, lower-fat choices that can lower your cholesterol levels and help you control your weight.

Limit Salt and Sugar

Limit your consumption of added sugars, since they can lead to unhealthy spikes in your blood sugar levels. Avoid dishes with sweet sauces. An order of Kung Pao chicken contains 18 grams of sugars, and an order of sweet and sour pork has 63 grams, while an order of shrimp and vegetables has only 13 grams. Individuals with diabetes are already at risk for kidney and heart disease. Consuming too much sodium can raise your blood pressure and further increase your risk for these conditions. To limit sodium consumption, ask your server to bring sauces on the side rather than in each dish. The American Heart Association recommends that you do not add high-sodium sauces like soy or black bean sauce, to your food.

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