If you have diabetes, eating out or going to an event can pose special challenges. How can you stick with your meal plan, yet have some fun? You can do it. If you choose wisely and watch how much you eat, you can have a delicious meal and feel good too. So, grab your plate and head for the buffet table.

Look for the high fiber, low-fat dishes. Great choices are beans, soy beans, peas and lentils, and dark green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, spinach, choisum and watercress. When it comes to salad, go for the green bean or three-bean dishes, tofu salad, Chinese chicken salad or pasta salads mixed with vegetables. Choose whole grain foods such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, pasta or buckwheat noodles. Everyone benefits from eating these foods, not just people with diabetes.

Watch out for dishes loaded with mayonnaise, sour cream and butter such as macaroni or egg salad and creamy dishes. Choose veggies that are light on salad dressing, cheese or cream sauce. If you can, make your own dressing with a little olive oil and vinegar. If you love mayonnaise, try a low-fat or fat-free mayonnaise product.

Vegetables and grains should fill up most of your plate. Choose small portions of lean meat, poultry or fish. Select grilled chicken without the skin and limit batter fried dishes such as foods cooked tempura style. Also, watch canned and processed meats such as hot dogs that are usually high in fat and salt.

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What's for dessert? It's hard to beat fresh fruits such as berries, grapes, oranges, or cantaloupe. Fruit is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and has zero fat. Everyone, including people with diabetes, should eat three to four servings of fruit a day. Pies, cakes, pastries, and cookies are high in fat and cholesterol. If you can't resist, have a very small serving.

It's best to drink water, unsweetened tea or diet beverages. Add a wedge of lemon for flavor. If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, limit your intake to no more than one drink a day for women, two for men, and drink only with a meal.

Eating the right foods to control your blood sugar means being prepared and planning ahead. If you need help putting together a meal plan, ask your doctor or nurse to refer you to a dietitian or diabetes educator.

NDEP