What’s for Lunch?

Caution: Consult your diabetes care team before starting a lower-carbohydrate meal plan. Diabetes medications such as insulin or oral drugs that stimulate insulin production (sulfonylureas or meglitinides) will need adjustment to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) when carbohydrate intake is decreased.

People often complain about the difficulty of following a lower-carb eating plan, especially at lunchtime.

Yes, many restaurants now tout a lower-carb menu, but few people have the luxury of time to go out to lunch daily.

So, what can you bring to work for lunch if you’re not eating sandwiches?

Salads—Always a Hit

Make a large salad once or twice a week. Try different salad greens and toppings, or try these favorites:

  • Chef’s salad: salad greens topped with ham, turkey, cheese, hard-boiled egg.
  • Grilled chicken salad: salad greens topped with pieces of grilled chicken; add cheese if you like.

Try to find salad dressings with olive oil as the first ingredient. Other good choices include ranch or blue cheese dressings. You don’t need to buy non-fat dressings, but remember: the portion size matters. Stick to about two tablespoons of dressing per portion.

Beyond Salads

If you are following a low-carb plan, you have other options besides salad.

When you do eat breads, check the label for whole-grain products that are lower in carbs and higher in fiber, such as whole-grain wraps or tortillas. For fruits, choose berries—blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.

Explore the lower-carb section at your grocery store and read nutrition labels to find lower-carb soups and side dishes. Companies are trying to answer the demand for low-carb soups and quick meals, and they are trying to improve the taste. It will take some trial and error to find products you enjoy that meet your dietary restrictions.

Practice Makes Perfect

As with any diet plan you choose to follow, it takes a little time and planning make flavorful, healthier choices. With a little practice and experimentation, you can do it.


Lower-carb experts suggest shopping at least weekly for

  • Deli meats and cheeses
  • Eggs
  • Canned fish such as salmon and tuna packed in water or olive oil
  • Cooked rotisserie chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fresh vegetables such as dark leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, cucumbers, celery, asparagus, colorful cabbage and peppers

Q: How can I add crunch to my lower-carb lunch?

Fresh, cool, crunchy raw vegetables like celery, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers and radishes are great additions to your lunchbox. They are tasty and healthful, high in fiber and they are easy on your blood glucose.

Nuts are satisfying, flavorful and crunchy and are a good source of monounsaturated fat and some fiber. Remember to keep track of portion sizes. Nuts are high in calories, and too many nuts can increase both your blood glucose and your weight.

Lower-carb chips are now available. Be sure to read the label and check the carb count. You may need to try several brands to find the snack that’s right for you. Some people prefer eating a small amount of regular chips.

And always check your blood glucose after eating.

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