Diabetics have cravings too.
Diabetics must carefully monitor nutritional intake, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy fast food once in a while. Just remember that it’s not just carbs you need to monitor, but also fat content. So is there anything you can enjoy eating at McDonald’s? Yes – if you choose wisely and in moderation.
Choosing menu items at McDonald’s
When choosing menu items at McDonald’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, pay attention to nutritional values. Count those carbs and serving limits.
Carbohydrates have the potential to affect your blood sugar levels faster than fats or proteins. A huge number of food choices at McDonald’s contain carbs, but some foods are naturally low in carbs, such as eggs and some meats.
Opt for menu items with lower carbs and watch those calories. For example, a good choice for breakfast could be an Egg McMuffin, with 30 g carbohydrates and 300 calories. A sausage McMuffin comes with 29 g carbs and 400 calories. Leave off the cheese, and you decrease your carb intake and save yourself 50 calories.
If you want a burger for lunch or dinner, a reasonable option is a hamburger (31 g carbs and 250 calories). If you’re really craving something bigger, you can order the Quarter Pounder – but leave off the cheese, which takes your carbs down from 42 to 39, and saves you 100 calories.
You can have fast food once in a while – but in moderation. Healthier options at McDonald’s are also available for diabetics, such as chicken or meatless salads. To save yourself carbs and calories, opt for grilled rather than crispy chicken.
For example, the Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken salad comes with 16 g carbs and 440 calories. Opt for the low-fat options in salad dressings (Balsamic Vinaigrette) and save yourself 5 g carbs and 110 calories. The low-fat Italian dressing is also an option and still saves you 1 g carb and 80 calories.
What to avoid
As you can see, it’s sometimes one single ingredient or option that makes all the difference between reasonable and not-so-healthy choices at McDonald’s. For diabetics, lose the cheese slice or the Buttermilk salad dressing. Choose grilled chicken over crispy.
Do try to avoid menu items with crispy chicken or high-calorie burgers. The Quarter-Pounder with cheese and bacon is loaded with 44 g carbs and a whopping 610 calories. The Big Mac (an all-time favorite) has 46 g carbs and 540 calories.
Despite your cravings, try to avoid French fries entirely. A medium-size fries has 89 g carbs and 860 calories. A large order has 112 g carbs and a whopping 1,030 calories.
Bottom line: Yes, you can eat at McDonald’s, but be aware of serving sizes and limits based on your overall daily nutritional needs. Talk to a nutritionist or your doctor about counting carbs, proteins, and fats.
You can enjoy fast food once in a while, but be aware of particular menu items that might cause blood sugar to surge. Carefully balancing your intake throughout the day not only ensures you receive adequate nutrition, but keeps you feeling good, active, and healthy.
McDonald’s provides a chart for certain food choices for diabetics, but be aware that each carbohydrate ‘choice’ or ‘exchange’ is equal to 15 grams of carbohydrates.
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