Delicious Dinners for Diabetes

Eating a large, carb-heavy dinner can drive up blood sugar if you have diabetes. Try these easy tips for diabetes-friendly dinners.

Amy Solomon

For many of us, dinner is the biggest meal of the day. But eating a too-large meal—especially one that's high in carbs—can drive up blood glucose levels. While no food is completely off-limits for people with diabetes, portion control is key, says Dawn Sherr, a practice manager at the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE). “It’s all about moderation.”

Try these tips for great dinners that can help keep blood sugar steady all night.

Quick heart-healthy grill
Turn on your barbecue, stove top or electric grill, and throw on a lean source of protein, such as fish fillets, beef tenderloin or skinless chicken breasts. “Add a salad and a small baked potato, and dinner’s ready in 15 minutes,” says Tami Ross, president-elect of AADE. Because people with type 2 diabetes are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, sticking to low-fat protein is best. 

Better-for-you pasta
Go for whole-grain noodles or specially formulated lower-carbohydrate pasta marketed to people with diabetes. And eat your pasta like the Italians do: al dente. Studies show that eating firmer noodles slows the release of glucose, preventing a blood sugar spike.

Stick to marinara sauce or veggies and your meal will be healthy and satisfying! Love spaghetti and meatballs? Think of pasta as an accompaniment to turkey meatballs, rather than the centerpiece of the meal, and limit the pasta portion to ½ cup.

Tip: Got leftover cooked pasta? Freeze it! Portion it into single-size servings; when you’re short on time, just reheat in the microwave for a portion-controlled meal that tastes just as great the second time around.

Very veggie Chinese
Skip dishes that are breaded, fried or swimming in sauce. Instead, go for steamed or boiled entrees made with lean chicken or fish, and add lots of peapods, broccoli and other vegetables. What about the rice? “The amount of rice in a small takeout container can be 45 to 60 carbs—and that’s before you add an entrée, many of which have sauces containing cornstarch or other carb-based thickeners,” says Ross. If you still want to go with the grain, choose brown over white. 

No-guilt pizza
After a long day at work, you can still pick up a pie on the way home—provided you opt for thin crust. And instead of topping it with sodium- and fat-laden pepperoni or sausage, add veggies, such as mushrooms, broccoli and red pepper strips. Finally, ask for reduced-fat cheese or for just half the normal amount of cheese.

Tasty toss-together
Keep canned beans, frozen peas, jarred artichoke hearts and vacuum-packed beets around. Toss over baby spinach and mix together with some low-fat feta or mozzarella, herbs of your choice and a little olive oil or low-fat dressing for a satisfying fiber-rich meal.

Dining-out do’s
Sometimes you just want someone else to do the cooking (and the serving and cleaning!). Whether it’s a fancy white-tablecloth place or a fast-food joint, Ross says, “Try eating like a child.” The kid-size meal in most fast-food chains is generally around 55 to 60 carbs. If kids’ meals aren’t available, order an appetizer and a salad instead of a full meal, says Ross. “You’ll save money and be healthier.”

May 2013