NAVIGATE THE BARBECUE SEASON WITH DIABETES… 10 EASY TIPS!
1. AS YOU NAVIGATE THE BARBECUE, HEAD FOR THE RAW VEGGIE PLATTER
A veggie platter is sure to be found at most gatherings. Fill half your plate with these high-fiber and low- calorie goodies. Raw vegetables such as carrots, celery, cucumber, mushrooms, tomatoes, and bell peppers can virtually be eaten in unlimited amounts. A typical sour cream and onion dip may not be low in fat, but usually doesn’t have added sugar and isn’t high in carbs. A dollop or two won’t hurt. If in doubt, bring your own!
Water is always the best way to stay hydrated. Filling a water bottle with ice before leaving home is a smart way to keep a cold supply at hand. If you need something carbonated, choose a seltzer or diet soda.
Flavored seltzers or sugar-free water enhancers can perk up your drink. Or infuse your water by simply adding some fresh fruit. Keep alcohol to a minimum as it can throw blood sugar out of control.
3.CREATE YOUR PLATE
You’ll find it easier to control your intake if you fix a plate. This will help to avoid “grazing” where you can lose track of how much you’ve nibbled on. Grazing almost always leads to overeating and may play havoc with your blood sugar.
To create a diabetic-friendly plate, cover 1/2 with non-starchy vegetables, 1/4 with complex carbohydrates, and 1/4 with protein.
Here are some create-your-plate ideas:
-A burger on a bun with lettuce and tomato. Or hot dog on a bun with mustard. A green salad with oil and vinegar dressing
-Grilled chicken breast with an ear of corn on the cob and an assortment of raw veggies
-Grilled steak kabob with peppers and onions; a small side of coleslaw
-Grilled chicken wings (about 6). A green salad with balsamic vinegar, a small side of potato salad
4. IF YOU ARE A CARB COUNTER
If you choose to count carbs to manage your blood sugar, you probably have an idea of how many you usually consume at meals. Typically this is 45 to 60 grams per meal. Aim to stick with your number and what works best for you. Know your blood glucose level before you leave home.
If you normally read food labels to determine the carb count, switch to carb groups. In other words, assign each serving of milk, fruit, or starch about 15 grams of carbohydrates. Meats and protein foods have minimal carbohydrates and the least impact on blood sugar. Two or three servings of non-starchy vegetables may also equal close to 15 grams. Consider raw veggies as freebies.
Pay attention to portion sizes. Use your best estimate based on portions you have measured at home. Or use this simple rule of thumb. A 3-ounce portion of meat is about the size of a deck of cards, a 1/2 cup of potato salad or rice is the size of your fist and 2 tablespoons of salad dressing or dip is about the size of your thumb.
5. OFFER TO BRING A SIDE DISH FROM HOME
You may have a favorite recipe that you have already calculated the carb count for. Offer to bring it to the barbecue. This will help when selecting the rest of your meal and reduce stress and anxiety.
A dish that is not only carb friendly but high in fiber will help improve blood sugar control. For example, baked beans without added sugar will have a small impact on blood glucose as well as providing 7 grams of fiber in a one-half cup serving.
6. BEWARE OF CONDIMENTS
Substitute lettuce or tomato for condiments. Barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, and ketchup often have added sugar, while mustard, hot sauces, and salsas generally do not.
Any herbs or spices are safe, however, it’s a good idea to go easy on the salt. Commercial salad dressings commonly have added sugar. Oil and vinegar are your safest bet.
7. PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING
Once you have fixed your plate, try to eat slowly and be mindful of each bite. Really enjoy your food and appreciate the flavors. Practice putting the fork down or engage in conversation between bites.
Rate your hunger before going back for seconds. Wait at least 20 minutes to allow yourself to feel full and satisfied.
8. KEEPING ACTIVE HELPS AS YOU NAVIGATE THE BARBECUE
Staying active is always a good idea. But if you’ve overindulged in food, physical activity will help to manage any upticks in your blood sugar.
Join in the fun for a round of volleyball or soccer. Or maybe an inning or two of a friendly softball game. Take a walk or offer to run after some of the younger children!
9. WATCH OUT FOR WATERMELONWatermelon is a delicious but very sweet summer treat, however, eating watermelon can cause an increase in your blood sugar levels. The glycemic index of watermelon is high at 72.
The glycemic index, or GI, measures how quickly a food will raise your blood sugar when compared to pure glucose. Foods with a GI of 0-50 are considered to have a low glycemic index, those with a score of 50-70 are considered moderate and a glycemic index of 71-100 is considered high.
Look for strawberries or blueberries with a GI of 40 and 50 respectively. Cherries are also low with a GI of 22.
10. THE DESSERT TABLE
While desserts are usually high-sugar foods, some are better than others. A pie or cake bought from the store may have multiple added sugars such as high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, and brown rice syrup to name a few.
Look for homemade items and don’t be afraid to ask about the ingredients. With a GI of 61, ice cream is not a bad choice in a small single dip portion.
THE BOTTOM LINE, AS YOU NAVIGATE THE BARBECUE…
You’ve been invited to a barbecue and of course, you’ve accepted! The most important thing is to stay confident and not feel overwhelmed. With a plan and a positive attitude, you can successfully navigate the barbecue.
Ease any anxiety and bring a dish to share. Create your plate and avoid grazing. Engage in conversations and backyard activities. Stay hydrated with unsweetened beverages. And most importantly enjoy yourself!
If you would like help planning for your next barbecue or any other diabetic meal planning, our experienced registered dietitians can individualize a plan for you.
Call us today to make an appointment at 240-449-3094