There’s more on that menu than just sushi rolls.
Got a love-hate relationship with carbs? We get it: They comprise some of our favorite foods, but they’re not always diet-friendly—especially if you have diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association recommends counting carbs as one of the best ways to manage blood glucose levels. This is especially important when eating out at carb-heavy restaurants, where the bulk of the meal is rice, pasta, or bread.
Exhibit A: sushi. Rice, rice, and more rice—right? Well, not necessarily. Nutritionist Sharon Richter, RD, offers the following tips for eating out with diabetes at Japanese restaurants.
Slow down. Yeah, that salmon avocado roll is delicious, but if you throw it back in six quick bites, you’re likely going to end up overeating. Use your chopsticks—even if it’s a struggle—because it will help you eat more slowly. The wasabi and ginger can also help slow you down; having a bite of pickled ginger in between each roll is meant to be palate cleanser and can really make you savor the roll.
Choose low-sodium soy sauce. Let’s be honest: can you really taste the difference? Diabetes is strongly linked with heart problems, and keeping your salt intake in check is healthy for your blood pressure. (Watch out for these other sneaky sodium bombs in your diet.)
Avoid anything with the word “tempura.” That means it’s breaded and fried.
Look for sashimi. You’ll get the fish without the rice, which is a huge carb savings.
When ordering appetizers, look for miso soup, edamame, or salad (e.g. green salad, seaweed salad, or hijiki salad). These are all healthy low-carb choices.
For sushi, stick to one or two rolls, and choose brown rice when possible. (It’s not always written on the menu, so just ask the server if you can get your rolls with brown rice.) If you want more than that, switch to nigiri or sashimi, which have less or no rice and will help you keep your carb total down.
If you’re ordering an entree instead of sushi, look for grilled chicken or fish options. Avoid entrees with teriyaki or miso sauce, which are typically high in sugar. Make sure to load up on vegetables, either by choosing veggie side dishes or having a veggie-heavy appetizer.
As long as you hold back on your rice intake, Japanese restaurants can actually be a very healthy dinner. The fish options are a great lean protein for diabetics and a wonderful dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Sharon Richter is a registered dietitian with a private nutrition practice in New York City.
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I'm gonna show you how you
can have Japanese food and
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keep your carbohydrates under control and
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Eat with your chopsticks,
it will slow you down.
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Have a little bit of the ginger, wasabi,
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and with the soy sauce, please make
sure that you're choosing low sodium.
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You just wanna make sure you staying
away from the things that are tempura.
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Check that they do have sashimi or
other non rice options on their menu.
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And that you can make some
modifications if necessary.
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So let's start with the appetizers.
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Miso soup is terrific.
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All the salads,
whether it's a green salad,
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whether it's hijiki,
which is black seaweed salad.
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Another thing that you can do is use
edamame, which has some fiber and
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some protein in it for you.
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So typically at most sushi restaurants,
they're gonna have three options.
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You can get a hand roll,
you can get nigiri,
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which means it's fish with a small
amount of rice, or you can get sashimi.
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So if you're ordering a sushi roll,
ideally see if they have brown rice or
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maybe multi grain rice or
maybe even quinoa.
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But if they don't,
it's gonna be okay to have the white rice,
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we just wanna control
the amount that we're having.
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So typically I say,
have one to two rolls, and
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that could be any type of fish you want.
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Some other tricks are, cut that rice in
half underneath, you're gonna be saving.
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Ideally picking sashimi, they might
call it a naruto roll or a sashimi roll.
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Which means you still get all the flavor,
enjoy the fish, but
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you're just cutting out that carbohydrate.
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And those are terrific.
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What you want to stay away from is
the teriyaki, such as teriyaki salmon or
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teriyaki chicken, miso, such as miso cod,
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eel, because it does have
a lot of sugar in it.
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But there's a lot of things you can choose
on a Japanese menu that are gonna be
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great for you.
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They often have a lot of different
grilled chicken entrees or
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they have fish, loaded up with vegetables.
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So you'll get terrific protein and
lots of vegetables, and feel full and
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satisfied, and it tastes terrific.
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Slow down, savor each bite,
and enjoy your meal.
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Carbohydrate counting. Arlington, VA: American Diabetes Association, 2017. (Accessed on August 18, 2017 at http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/carbohydrate-counting.html.)