By: Nancy Wagner
Suppose you’re planning a dinner party with several couples and find out that one of your guests has diabetes. Do you need to serve something special for them? Not necessarily.
When any of us eats carbohydrates (carbs) our body converts them to blood sugar which is the fuel for our muscles and brain. In diabetes, our bodies have a hard time managing these carbs so we need to do it ourselves through balanced eating.
People with diabetes need to count and space out the amount of carbs they eat. They can do this either by counting portions of carbs or by counting actual grams of carb. The general guidelines are:
- 2-3 portions or 30-45 grams of carb per meal for women
- 3-4 portions or 45-60 grams of carb per meal for men.
It’s also beneficial to have protein at each meal. Sweets are allowed as long as their carbs are counted in the allotted portions or grams. Some examples of a carb serving are:
- 1 slice of bread or a small dinner roll;
- ½ cup mashed potatoes, corn, peas, or winter squash;
- 1/3 cup of cooked rice or pasta
- ½ cup cooked beans or lentils;
- ½ cup mixed fruit or a small piece of fruit
- 8oz of milk
- 2 small cookies
- ½ cup ice cream.
All other vegetables are very low in carbs and usually can be considered “free”.
So, how do you plan that dinner party meal? You could start by planning several vegetables. For instance, a nice tossed salad with lots of colorful vegetables. Maybe some cooked broccoli or summer squash and zucchini. Add a protein like salmon or boneless chicken breast. A small amount of starch such as brown rice could round out the meal. Have a variety of non-calorie beverages including seltzer, plain water, coffee and/or tea to offer. Desserts don’t necessarily have to be sugar-free. You could have a variety so that the person with diabetes can make his or her own choice. Maybe some angel food cake with fresh berries. The key for desserts is portion size, smaller is better.
Your job as host/hostess is to provide a variety of healthy food choices and allow the person with diabetes to make their own choices. Many people with diabetes do not like attention brought to their eating or disease, so have a private conversation about the menu before the actual dinner party or before the other guests arrive. Now, sit back and enjoy the meal and the conversation.
Nancy Wagner is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and a Certified Diabetes Educator at Copley Hospital. She provides health and wellness to Copley employees through screenings, education and fun activities; educates patients regarding their nutrition and diabetes needs; and works with community members providing education to schools and businesses. Nancy enjoys helping others learn new things about nutrition, their health habits, and their chronic diseases.