When ‘healthy’ isn’t for diabetics

SHARE When ‘healthy’ isn’t for diabetics

PHOTO: If a restaurant chain’s menu is centered around some sort of bread, it’s not the best choice for a diabetic.  |  Brett Roseman/Sun-Times Media

Here’s the thing about the myriad “healthiest” lists that websites and various publications put together:

They may be healthy for someone, but they’re not so hot for diabetics.

I thought of that when I saw this ranking on Yahoo! from a new website, Grellin. It has looked at the nutritional value of the different offerings at a number of national chains and scored them. Along with that, the website has compiled its list of 10 Healthiest Restaurants.

Tied at the top is Au Bon Pain and Rubio’s. Coming in at No. 2 is Subway, followed by Bruegger’s Bagels; Cosi, Panera Bread; (tie) Jersey Mike’s Subs and In-N-Out Burger; Panda Express, and at No. 10, El Pollo Loco.

In my book, these are exactly the places to stay away from if you are a diabetic. Most of these menus are based on bread, bread and more bread. And not  just any bread; in many cases we’re talking about BIG bread. Which translates to carbs, carbs and more carbs. Plus, at spots like Au Bon Pain and Panera, there are oodles of sweet treats to tempt a diabetic. This is not a place for us.

If the centerpiece of a chain’s menu is based on carbs, then that’s what a place is pushing and what will be its best offerings. Salads and other menu items without carbs often are an afterthought, so those won’t be as appealing. Or, the “healthy” choices are just reduced-calorie items. In that case, they may have fewer calories but not necessarily fewer carbohydrates. What diabetics want and need are fewer carbohydrates.

Grellin also rates dishes with a “run score,” meaning how long a person would have to run to work off the calories from it. This is not a barometer diabetics should use. Again, what is most important for us is the amount of carbohydrates.

Remember, carbohydrates aren’t just in the bread. They often show up in sauces, salad dressings and side dishes as well. Something like dried cranberries, very popular at this time of year. So tasty, but really they are just concentrated nuggets of sugar (aka carbs). Any time you see a lowfat menu item, assume it has been flavored with some form of sweetener.

So whenever you see those “healthiest” lists, look at them with a grain of skepticism if you are a diabetic or anyone trying to keep a lid on carbohydrate consumption.

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