Traditional Mexican food is loaded with carbohydrates. This may pose a problem for people diagnosed with diabetes. Carbohydrates cannot be broken down in the body by diabetics without the help of taking insulin or other diabetic medication.
Accumulation of carbohydrates is what increases blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels can create problems and be potentially life-threatening. So, what should people with diabetes do if they want to enjoy a delicious Mexican or Tex-Mex meal? The secret is to choose food and do so with a carb-conscious mind wisely.
Most dishes in Mexican cuisine include a lot of carbohydrates. Diabetics should skip the following menu items:
- Tortillas (corn or flour)
- Tortilla chips
- Taco shells
Carbohydrates cannot be broken down by diabetics without the help of taking insulin or other pills. The accumulation of carbohydrates is what increases blood sugar levels. Diabetics need to be cautious when eating Mexican food. Not to say that a delicious Mexican meal cannot be enjoyed by diabetics, because it certainly can!
People with diabetes can enjoy Mexican food. There are many low-carb options available for diabetics from which to choose. Especially as the healthy-living trend continues, many restaurants offer low-carb meal options. With a little knowledge and research beforehand, low-carb options can be tasty and satisfying.
Appetizers for Diabetics
Guacamole is a great option for diabetics at a Mexican restaurant. Guacamole is made from avocadoes, which are loaded with healthy fats and very low in carbohydrates. Hold the tortilla chips that traditionally come with guacamole and eat it with a spoon or fork. Another option is to ask if veggies are available for dipping, such as tomatoes, romaine lettuce spears, or bell pepper slices.
Pico de gallo, also known as fresh salsa, is another appetizer suitable for diabetics dining at a Mexican restaurant. Pico de gallo is traditionally made from fresh tomatoes, cilantro, onions, and jalapenos. This is a great way to start your meal or to add a little extra flavoring to your main dish. Again, hold off on the tortilla chips that traditionally come with pico de gallo and opt for veggies or eat it plain with a fork.
Entrées for Diabetics
Entrée options are plentiful when ordering Mexican food. You will have to display willpower because traditional Mexican food includes tacos, burritos, flautas, chimichangas, chilaquiles, and tostadas. All of which are wrapped in carbohydrates. Some dishes, like tacos or burritos, can be ordered without the tortilla, but then you essentially have a salad. This doesn’t sound as exciting as a burrito or fried flauta, but don’t worry because healthy choices are available for people with diabetes.
One great option for diabetics is a salad. Many Mexican salads are packed into a large, fried tortilla shell, which is also too carb-heavy and should be removed. A safe bet is to order any salad and hold the tortilla shell-bowl. Make sure to opt-out of roasted corn as well as this adds unnecessary carbs. If you have the willpower, just eat the salad and leave the taco shell standing. Proof of your “job well done.”
The safest and most delicious low-carb dish for diabetics is fajitas. Fajitas are traditionally grilled meats and vegetables served with cheese, pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream in flour or corn tortillas. Ask to replace the flour tortillas with lettuce leaves or bring your own low-carb tortillas from home. You can easily make diabetic friendly tortillas to take to Mexican restaurants so that you can enjoy tacos, burritos, and fajitas.
A newer option that caters to the healthy lifestyle trend is the Mexican “bowls.” The Mexican restaurant, Chipotle, is famous for this type of food option. Instead of using a tortilla to hold the food, the food is placed in a container to be eaten but is marketed as “bowls.” Options are grilled chicken, steak, shrimp, or portabella mushrooms served with cilantro lime rice, black beans, bell peppers, queso fresco, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo and sliced avocado. You can ask for ½ of the allotted rice or hold the rice. You can leave the beans depending on your allotted carbohydrate count for the day.
As expected, there are not many diabetic-friendly dessert options at most Mexican restaurants. If you are looking for a treat, maybe try a sugar-free margarita, offered at some Mexican restaurants. Sugar-Free Mango tea is also a refreshing treat.
If that doesn’t satisfy your sweet tooth, make some low-sugar Flan. At home, you can try your hand at making low-sugar Mexican Flan, a take on traditional Mexican Flan. The recipe is here. Otherwise, just pass on dessert.
Many diabetic options are available for diabetics. Don’t let diabetes stop you from enjoying a night out with friends, a date night, or dinnertime with the family. You have healthy, smart choices to choose from. With a little research and knowledge, safe, smart, and healthy choices are available.
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