How to Eat on the Go When You Have Type 2 Diabetes
At Vending Machines
Most of them are full of salt and sugar. The standard package of crackers with peanut butter or cheese would seem like a safe option, but “they have so little protein that they end up just being carbs,” Smithson says.
Your best bet: Nuts. “They’re low in carbs, contain protein, and are a healthy source of ‘good’ mono- or polyunsaturated fats,” she says. Careful, though: Many vending machines will carry a large package, when 1 ounce -- about 18 cashews or 28 peanuts -- is all you need.
Inside Convenience Stores
They don’t have the variety that a grocery store does, but they do offer some good choices, especially in the refrigerated section.
Your best bet: “Try a pack of veggies and dip,” says Alison Massey, RD, director of diabetes education at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. “Most veggies are low in calories but also low in carbs, so they’ll cause a minimal rise in blood sugar. Plus they’re a great way to get vitamins and minerals in your diet.”
Other options: a tennis-ball-size piece of fruit or a small cup of plain yogurt.
At the Coffee Shop
Need a mid-morning or late afternoon pick-me-up? It's OK to indulge, as long as you skip the specialty coffee drinks that can be loaded with sugar.
Your best bet: Keep your drink order simple: “unsweetened tea, caffé Americano, or a ‘skinny’ flavored latte that uses sugar-free syrup and low-fat milk,” Massey says. “The calories and carbs are often much lower than the original version. But check the nutrition facts to be sure.”
At Your Desk
The biggest challenge of watching your diet away from home? “Realizing that healthy eating requires planning ahead,” says Lori Zanini, RD, certified diabetes educator for HealthCare Partners in Los Angeles.
Keep a stash of healthy fixings at work.
Your best bet: “If you’re more than 5 hours out from your previous meal, aim for a snack that pairs one serving of carbohydrate (15 grams) with a serving of protein,” Zanini says. You could try:
- A small apple with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons of raisins and 1/4 cup of almonds
- 3 cups of air-popped popcorn and a handful of roasted pecans
- A natural peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread