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Eating 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. Eating 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.

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, 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 sub out salad, baby carrots, or apple slices.

In a sandwich shop:

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

Your best bet: Choose freshly sliced lean meats over deli meats, which tend to be higher in sodium. Turkey and chicken tend to be lower in fat and sodium, 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. Consider putting your protein on a salad, and getting carbs from milk or fruit instead.

At the vending machine:

Most vending machines are full of sodium 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,” Smithson says. Careful, though: Many vending machines will carry a large package, when 1 ounce -- about 18 cashews or 28 peanuts -- is all you need.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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