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Diabetes Health Center

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How to Eat on the Go When You Have Type 2 Diabetes

By Stephanie Booth
WebMD Feature

Since you have type 2 diabetes, you’ve probably got your carb counting down at home, and a good idea of what to eat to keep your blood sugar steady.

Picking meals and snacks on the go may seem more random, but there are healthy options in every situation. You just have to know what to look for, wherever you are.

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Diabetes Care: Managing Your Time When You Have Diabetes

Sometimes, living with diabetes can seem like a full-time job -- trying to keep up with everything you need to do for proper diabetes care. "Diabetes is a very time-consuming disease to manage well," says Karmeen Kulkarni, MS, RD, CDE, and former president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association. "The medication, the food, the physical activity -- you add life in general to that whole picture and it ends up being quite challenging."

Read the Diabetes Care: Managing Your Time When You Have Diabetes article > >

At the Drive-Thru

“The average fast-food meal can run as high as 1,000 calories -- over half of what you may need for the day -- and also run up your blood sugar,” says Toby Smithson, RD, co-author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies.

“Menu items described as ‘jumbo,’ ‘giant,’ ‘or ‘deluxe’ probably indicate an item that’s as high in sugar and fat as it is in calories.”

Your best bet: “A kids’ burger, no cheese, provides a reasonable meal with lower carbs, protein, and fat,” Smithson says. Skip the fries, and go for a side salad, baby carrots, or apple slices instead.

In a Sandwich Shop

When sandwiches are made to order, you’re able to choose the items you add on (like veggies) and what to leave off, such as fatty mayonnaise or high-sugar barbecue sauce. Plus, many delis offer a combo of half a sandwich with half a salad or a cup of soup, which can be a great way to keep carbs in check, Smithson says.

Your best bet: Choose freshly sliced lean meats over deli meats, which tend to have more salt. Turkey and chicken are usually lower in fat and salt, so they’re good bets -- as long as you don’t have them in a heavy mayonnaise-based salad.

Choose whole-grain breads and wraps, since they have more nutrients than white bread. But be aware: “That doesn’t always equate to higher fiber or lower carbohydrate,” Smithson says.

Generally speaking, a 6-inch tortilla or half a sandwich bun offers 15 grams, or 1 serving, of carbs. You'll need 2-5 servings per meal. So put your protein on a salad, and get carbs from milk or fruit instead.

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