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Diabetes-Friendly Chinese Takeout


Love Chinese food? Try these blood sugar-safe swaps


By Rachel Meltzer Warren, MS, RDN


Dishes from Western Chinese restaurants are likely to be deep fried, packed with sodium and sugar, and focused on carbohydrates like rice or noodles — all of which can be a problem for a diner with diabetes. “A typical serving of rice at a Chinese restaurant is equivalent to nine carbohydrate servings,” says Toby Smithson, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition For Dummies. By choosing your carbs carefully and opting for lighter picks, like steamed veggies and meats, though, you can enjoy a more nutritious, guilt-free Chinese food meal.


Choose Buddha’s Delight Instead of Fried Rice

Buddha's Delight

“A full serving of any fried rice dish is an overload of carbohydrates,” says Smithson, who warns that such a meal can also pack more than 1,000 calories and 3,400 milligrams of sodium, which is 1,100 milligrams more than what’s recommended for the entire day! A vegetarian noodle-based dish like Buddha’s Delight with an added protein like tofu or shrimp can provide a significant portion of food without going over your carb budget.


Choose Beef with Broccoli Instead of Pork Lo Mein

Beef and Broccoli

“[One order of] Pork Lo Mein will add at least 800 milligrams more sodium than what is recommended for the entire day,” says Smithson. It’s also loaded with carbs from the noodles. A better choice is Beef with Broccoli, which has less sodium, and only 12 grams of carbs. Opt for steamed vegetables on the side instead of rice.

Choose Steamed Chicken Instead of General Tso’s Chicken


General Tso’s Chicken — a popular sweet, slightly spicy, deep-fried chicken dish — contains a high amount of carbs (61 g), fat (40 g) and almost a full day’s worth of sodium in just one dish, says Smithson. Instead, look for a chicken dish that isn’t battered and fried, like chicken with string beans or steamed or grilled chicken.

Hungry for more? Try these delicious Italian and Mexican dishes that won’t spike your blood sugar. 


Published on May 24, 2016. 


Rachel is a New York City-area nutrition writer, educator and counselor.

Reviewed by Mima Geere, MD, MS on January 15, 2015.
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