Warm weather brings with it picnics, barbeques, and family reunions. If you have diabetes, you can enjoy the season and keep your condition under control by following a few easy guidelines.
- Timing is very important. If possible, schedule the event at your regular meal time. Diabetes is easiest to control when meals are kept on a fairly routine schedule. Don’t go to the event hungry. If your meal will be later than usual, eating a healthy snack before you leave home will help you to be in control when you hit the buffet table and also prevent a low blood sugar. Don’t skip your other meals that day either because you’re saving up calories or too full after the event.
- Make a meal plan. Before you start to fill your plate, check out all the food choices and make a plan. That way you won’t fill your plate and then see that “must-have” item. Allow yourself a small portion of some favorite foods. By skipping bread, rolls, chips, and other foods that you can eat any time, you can fit in a small serving of potato salad or a favorite dessert. Save your treat for last, when you’re not so hungry. You’ll be more satisfied with a smaller portion. Take small bites and savor every bit.
- Choose lean grilled meats. These include chicken breast, turkey burgers, hamburgers made from 90 percent or leaner ground beef, and fish. To save carbs, skip the bun or eat an open-face sandwich. To save calories, skip the mayo; add flavor to your sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, onions, and mustard. Avoid fried foods and also remember that most casseroles are high in fat.
- Fill up on veggies. Raw vegetables with a low-fat dip, tossed salad, and grilled veggies are all great choices. Remember to fill at least one half of your plate with vegetables.
- Think your drink. It’s important to stay hydrated in warm weather, but beverages with natural and added sugar, like sodas, lemonade, fruit juices, and sweetened tea make it very difficult to control diabetes and add lots of calories. Your best choices are water, unsweetened iced tea, club soda, sparkling water, or mineral water. For flavor, add slices of fruit—lemon, lime, orange, peach, or a cherry. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation and avoid sweetened mixed drinks.
Jacqueline Roberts, RD, CDE, LDN, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Lancaster General Health's Diabetes and Nutrition Center.
- Enjoy the non-food aspects of the event. Enjoy your surroundings and the company of family and friends. Try to include some activity in the event—a walk or a hike, playing Frisbee, baseball, badminton, or volleyball, swimming, or riding bike can all be fun and help to keep diabetes in control.