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Chinese Food for People with Diabetes - Everything You Need to Know!

Chinese Food for People with Diabetes - Everything You Need to Know!

  By: Editors at DiabetesIQ  |  Published: March 20, 2021   
Published: March 20, 2021   

© Leung Cho Pan | Dreamstime.com


If you have diabetes, you need to be extra careful when ordering takeout or when you go out to enjoy a meal with your friends at a Chinese restaurant. Many of the popular dishes at Chinese restaurants are loaded with carbs, which makes them rather unsuitable for anyone diagnosed with diabetes. Nevertheless, you can still eat well at Chinese restaurants if you have type I or type II diabetes and the good news is that you don't only have to eat the steam versions of everything.

Here's everything you need to know about what to order at the Chinese restaurant and what to stay away from if you have diabetes.

 

What to order at a Chinese restaurant when you have diabetes

If you're going for Chinese food either as a takeout or at a restaurant, chances are there's going to be a rice or noodles on your plate. If the rice is white, you might need to be prepared for a significant blood sugar spike. In fact, eating white rice is not only bad for people with diabetes, but also for every serving of white rice a person eats every day, their risk of developing type II diabetes increases by 11%.

So because Chinese food doesn't go without rice too well, try to get half a cup of brown rice instead. Besides being lower in carbs, brown rice is also a good source of magnesium, which helps your body process insulin more efficiently. Now that the rice issue is settled, it's time to choose the rest of your meal.

 

Starters and soups

Chinese food is known for dishes such as lo mein, chow mein, and fried rice, but you should choose an entrée that lower in carbs. A good idea is to make vegetables the bulk of your meal to avoid a sugar spike. Order steamed vegetables if there are suitable options for vegetable-based entrees on the menu.

Steamed shrimp with eggplant is an excellent choice of entrée because it is both veggie and protein packed. You can request your garlic sauce on the side in order to be able to drizzle just the amount you need.

When it comes to soups, try to get a light one such as a classic egg drop soup. If you want to have wonton soup, remember that there are many carbs in it, so you might need to limit the amount of carbohydrates for the rest of your day. Hot and sour soup and steamed dumplings are also good choices for a starter.

 

Main dishes 

Steamed fish and veggies should be the bulk of your main dish as well. There are many traditional Chinese dishes that are high in vitamins and minerals while being low in fat. Some great choices include peas, tofu, beans, bean sprouts and dark green vegetables such as Chinese spinach, Chinese broccoli, and watercress. Other Chinese vegetables that are high in fibers and the rich in iron include Chinese mushrooms, black fungus, and seaweed.

 

Desserts and drinks

When it comes to dessert, try to stay away from things such as banana fritters and opt for a fresh fruit salad instead. Food is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber and it comes with the added bonus of having zero fat.

For drinks, the best choice is water, followed by a diet soda and unsweetened tea. You can add a lemon for extra flavor if you want.


What to avoid at a Chinese restaurant when you have diabetes 

Carbohydrates, fat and sodium are three things that you need to steer clear from when ordering food at a Chinese restaurant if you have diabetes. This is easier said than done because many classics on Chinese menus are laden with all those three things, so it's important to avoid sweet-and-sour dishes fried ice cream, sweet rice, fried rice, and any high-carb dishes.

Chinese restaurants typically have many fried nibbles that are beloved by everyone, such as crispy fried wontons and egg rolls. You should stay away from all these salty, high carb dishes and order steamed dumplings as a starter if you want to eat something before the main course.

Desserts of Chinese restaurants are another way to blow your glucose control out of the water, even if you opted for healthy and low-carb starters and main dishes. Forget about fried ice cream and sweet bun style deserves that are so popular in Chinese restaurants. Instead, opt for seasonal fruits or a fruit salad.


Just because you have diabetes, it doesn't mean that you can't enjoy a meal with your family or friends at the Chinese restaurant. All you have to do is to pay attention to the amount of carbohydrates in the dishes you order to avoid a high blood sugar spike.


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