When it comes to diabetic dining information, there seems to be a dearth of guidance on the various international foods available in so many restaurants. You’ve probably read all about cutting down on fries, steak, and French fries… but what about falafel, sushi, and egg drop soup?

Like good American food, food from abroad is a double-edged sword. Some dishes are carb and saturated fat bombs, while others are perfect for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Here’s how to navigate an international menu if you’re diabetic:

Mexican: Traditionally, Mexican food consisted of two main foods… corn and beans. Sadly, most American versions of Mexican food are stacked with additions like refined flour, oil, and sour cream.

Beans are an especially healthy food for diabetics, as they are packed with fiber and minerals. Additionally, whole wheat and corn tortillas are also a healthy option in moderation.

One of the best dishes to order at Mexican restaurants are fajitas loaded with grilled vegetables and beans… but be sure to avoid the tortillas.

Chinese Food: Traditional Chinese takeout is not the place for most diabetics to find a healthy meal. Since they tend to load their food with monosodium glutamate and unhealthy fats, you should look for more traditional Chinese restaurants that tend to serve more vegetables.

When you’re there, look for chicken dishes that are low in sodium or ask the cook to add less salt to the food.

Italian: Because they tend to be loaded with carbohydrates, many diabetics avoid all Italian dishes. This is not a bad plan, since pasta and lasagna are carbohydrate-based.

However, if you’re looking for high-end Italian restaurants, you’ll see dishes on the menu like grilled veggies with mozzarella cheese and arugula salad that are healthy, delicious, and even though they lack pasta…they’re Italian.

Japanese: When you think of Japanese food, rice may come to mind, but that’s not an entirely accurate representation of Japanese cuisine.

Sushi, the quintessential Japanese import, is a healthy food for most people with diabetes… when eaten in moderation. The omega-3s from the fish and the fiber from the vegetables make sushi a great choice. However, some sushi places charge for white rice in an effort to cut costs. Order sushi with little or no rice and you will greatly increase the healthiness of the meal.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try Shabu Shabu. Shabu Shabu (literally translated as “splash, splash”) is a dining experience where you are given a bowl of boiling water and a set of raw ingredients. You cook them together yourself and enjoy the results.

Because you’re controlling what you put into it, most of which is chicken, fish, and vegetables, Shabu Shabu is as healthy as you want it to be.

Thai: Thai food is becoming more and more popular and you may have one right down the street from your house. Thai food tends to be healthier than other Asian cuisines, with the focus being on vegetables and lean cuts of meat.

For even more health benefits from your Thai food, ask for more vegetables and brown rice… most Thai restaurants are happy to oblige.

People with type 2 diabetes don’t have to stop eating at restaurants that serve international food…you just need to know which foods to avoid so you can control both your weight and your blood sugar levels.

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