How to Make the Right Choices at the Deli Counter

When you are trying to manage your diabetes, you should approach the deli counter with caution. When you approach the deli counter with its long rows of meats, cheeses, and salads, in most cases you do so without your best friend — nutrition facts. That’s not to say there aren’t healthy choices available, but the trick is finding them.

It simply isn’t possible to tell by looking, because even though you see ingredients you know swimming around in those salads, you can bet there are ingredients you can’t see. You need the nutrition information for these mixed dishes.

The information is available, but in most cases it’s held in a secure location behind the deli counter. That makes planning for deli items even more challenging than eating out, because most restaurants publish nutrition information online for you to consider in advance — most groceries do not.

The best strategy is to ask your deli counter how you can get copies of the nutrition information for products that you find appealing. They may hand you a book, or perhaps have preprinted tags or cards for the individual dishes. If you’re comfortable evaluating the products on the spot, good for you.

If you’d rather not do this while thinking under pressure, take the nutrition information home, and make your selections for the next trip. Remember, consider serving size and carbohydrates for blood glucose control, but watch for dishes that are high in fat, sodium, or added sugar.

Speaking of added sugar, the deli counter is often adjacent to the store’s bakery goods department, where an assortment of cookies, cakes, and pastries may be softly calling your name. You may find some great, freshly baked bread selections in this area, and once again you should be able to get the nutrition information for those items from the bakery counter.

As for the sweetened treats, walk swiftly. Sweet treats aren’t forbidden for diabetics— moderation, as you would imagine, is the strategy best adopted for diabetes management — but you are much better off preparing these kinds of items at home.

First, you’ll know exactly what goes into the recipe, and you can select from recipes that are lower in carbohydrate, fat, and sodium. Second, baked goods can often be modified by using non-nutritive sweeteners to replace sugar, and fruit purees to replace fat. Grocery baked sweets are best avoided.

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