If you have type 2 diabetes, making a nutritious lunch a priority can significantly impact your blood sugar level and weight. Finding a satisfying lunch meal for a person with diabetes might be challenging. Perhaps you're at work or school and don't have access to a kitchen, but there are plenty of unhealthy options around you. Because of this, it's crucial to prepare ahead of time and have a solid selection of healthy diabetic lunch options available.

The simplest method to ensure that happens is to prepare food at home. Thankfully, making quick, healthy meals suitable for people with diabetes requires a little knowledge and some simple, tasty recipes we will discuss on this page.

Key Facts

  • Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that tends to progress over time. However, it can be slowed down significantly or even remission when caught early and managed with healthy diets and physical activities.
  • The goal of a healthy diabetic diet is to reduce calories and blood sugar spikes, lose weight, improve A1C levels, gain long-term control of the condition, and possibly go into remission.
  • Type 2 diabetes remission occurs when blood sugar levels are below the diabetes range, and the patient no longer requires diabetes medication. Being in type 2 diabetes remission reduces the chances of developing diabetes-related health problems.

Healthy Lunch Ideas

Chicken and egg salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz cooked chicken breast, diced
  • Two hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • Two tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt
  • One tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • One tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the chicken, eggs, celery, and red onion in a bowl. Mix the Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a separate small bowl. Pour the dressing over the chicken and egg mixture and toss until well coated. Serve the salad on a bed of lettuce or as a sandwich filling using whole-grain bread or leaves.

  • Calories: 250-300 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 5-10 grams
  • Protein: 25-30 grams

Green salad quinoa and low-sugar dressing

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup cucumber, sliced
  • Two tablespoons chopped almonds
  • Low-sugar dressing of your choice

Combine the mixed salad greens, cooked quinoa , cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and chopped almonds in a large bowl. Toss the salad ingredients together to mix them evenly. Drizzle the low-sugar dressing over the salad, starting with a small amount and adding more as desired.

Be mindful of the portion size to control the overall carbohydrate and calorie content. Serve and enjoy as a standalone dish, or pair it with a source of lean protein like grilled chicken or tofu for a more filling meal.
  • Calories: Approximately 300-350 calories
  • Carbohydrates: Around 35-40 grams
  • Protein: About 8-10 grams

Tuna Salad

Ingredients:

  • Two cans of tuna drained
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup diced pickles
  • One tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a mixing bowl, add the drained tuna and break it up with a fork into smaller pieces. Add the mayonnaise to the tuna and mix well to combine. Add the diced celery, red onion, and pickles to the bowl and mix everything. Drizzle the lemon juice over the mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well to ensure all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

You can serve the tuna salad immediately or refrigerate it for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to meld together. Enjoy this quick meal as a sandwich filling, spread it on crackers, or serve it over a bed of lettuce as a salad.
  • Calories: 300-400 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 10-15 grams
  • Protein: 20-30 grams

Low-Sodium Bean Soup With a Cheese Stick and Sunflower Seeds

Ingredients:

  • One can of low-sodium beans whole grains
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • One small onion, chopped
  • Two cloves of garlic, minced
  • One carrot, diced
  • One celery stalk, diced
  • One teaspoon of olive oil
  • One teaspoon of dried herbs

Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Stir fry the chopped onion, minced garlic, diced carrot, and celery. Sauté for a few minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Add the drained and rinsed beans to the pot. Stir them in with the vegetables.

Pour in the low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth. Add the dried herbs, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir everything together. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and let the soup simmer for 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.

While the soup is simmering, prepare your serving of a cheese stick and sunflower seeds. After the soup has simmered, please remove it from the heat.

  • Calories: 300-400 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 30-40 grams
  • Protein: 15-20 grams

Whole-Grain Pasta With Lean Protein and Veggies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole-grain pasta
  • Lean protein options 
  • Assorted vegetables of your choice 
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • Salt, pepper, and any preferred herbs or spices for seasoning

Cook the whole-grain pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside. In a separate pan, heat some olive oil over medium heat.

Add your chosen lean protein option (e.g., grilled chicken, shrimp, tofu, or lean turkey) to the pan and cook until it's cooked through or heated. Add assorted vegetables (e.g., broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes) to the pan with the protein. Sauté until the vegetables are tender-crisp.

Season with salt, pepper, and herbs or spices for added flavor. Add the cooked whole-grain pasta to the pan and toss everything together until well combined.

  • Calories: 300-400 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 40-50 grams
  • Protein: 20-30 grams

Whole-Wheat Wrap With Lean Protein and Avocado

Ingredients:

  • One whole-wheat wrap or tortilla
  • Lean protein options 
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • Assorted vegetables of your choice 
  • Optional condiments

Lay the whole-wheat wrap or tortilla on a clean surface. Spread your preferred condiment on the wrap, leaving a border around the edges. Place your chosen lean protein option on top of the condiment layer.

Sliced avocado and assorted vegetables should be added on top of the protein. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs or spices for added flavor.

Fold in the sides of the wrap, then tightly roll it up from one end to the other, creating a wrap shape. Cut the wrap half if desired, and serve your delicious whole wheat.

  • Calories: 300-400 calories per wrap
  • Carbohydrates: 30-40 grams
  • Protein: 20-30 grams

Burrito Bowl With Beans, Rice, and Lean Protein

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice or quinoa
  • 1 cup cooked black beans or pinto beans
  • Lean protein options
  • Assorted vegetables of your choice

Cook the brown rice or quinoa according to the package instructions. Set aside. If using canned beans, rinse and drain them. If using dried beans, cook them beforehand, following the package instructions. Set aside.

Cook your chosen lean protein option using your preferred cooking method. Season with salt, pepper, and any preferred herbs or spices. Chop assorted vegetables of your choice into bite-sized pieces.

Assemble your burrito bowl by layering the cooked rice or quinoa, beans, lean protein, and assorted vegetables in a bowl. Add optional toppings such as salsa, guacamole, low-fat Greek yogurt, or sour cream.

Squeeze fresh lime juice over the bowl for added flavor. Serve and enjoy your healthy dinner!

  • Calories: 400-500 calories per serving
  • Carbohydrates: 50-60 grams
  • Protein: 20-30 grams

Low-Fat Cottage Cheese With Berries and an English Muffin

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • Assorted berries of your choice 
  • One whole wheat or whole grain English muffin

Toast the whole wheat or whole grain English muffin until it reaches your desired level of crispness. Scoop the low-fat cottage cheese into a bowl. Wash the assorted berries and pat them dry. Add them to the bowl with the cottage cheese.

Gently mix the cottage cheese and berries. Split the toasted English muffin into halves. Serve the low-fat cottage cheese and berries alongside the toasted English muffin halves.

  • Calories: 250-300 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 40-50 grams
  • Protein: 15-20 grams

Keto Cobb Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups mixed salad greens 
  • Four hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
  • Eight slices of cooked bacon crumbled
  • 2 cups cooked chicken breast, diced
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

In a large bowl, combine the mixed salad greens. Arrange the chopped hard-boiled eggs, crumbled bacon, diced chicken breast, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber on the greens. Sprinkle the crumbled blue cheese and chopped chives over the salad.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle your preferred keto-friendly dressing over the salad, or serve it on the side. Toss the salad gently to combine all the ingredients. Serve the Keto Cobb Salad immediately, and enjoy!

  • Calories: 450-550 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 7-10 grams
  • Protein: 30-40 grams

Smoked Salmon Wrap

Ingredients:

  • One large whole wheat or low-carb wrap or tortilla
  • 2-3 ounces smoked salmon slices
  • Two tablespoons of cream cheese or Greek yogurt
  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Sliced cucumber

Lay the wrap or tortilla on a clean surface. Spread the cream cheese or Greek yogurt evenly over the wrap, covering the entire surface. Place the smoked salmon slices on the cream cheese or Greek yogurt.

Add thinly sliced red onion and cucumber on top of the salmon. If desired, sprinkle fresh dill or chives over the ingredients. Squeeze some lemon juice over the fillings for added flavor (optional). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roll the wrap tightly, starting from one end, and secure it with toothpicks if needed. Slice the wrap in half or into smaller pinwheel-style pieces for easier serving.

  • Calories: 300-400 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 20-30 grams
  • Protein: 15-20 grams

Tips for Planning and Preparing Diabetic Lunches

  • Eat balanced meals with lean protein, high-fiber carbs, and healthy fats.
  • Include non-starchy vegetables for added nutrients and fiber.
  • Limit added sugars, refined grains, and processed foods.
  • Practice portion control to manage blood sugar levels.
  • Meal prep for time-saving and healthier choices.

Recommended Portion Sizes

Here are some general guidelines:

  • Lean protein: Aim for 3-4 ounces (85-113 grams) 
  • High-fiber carbs: Include 1/2 to 1 cup (90-180 grams)
  • Non-starchy vegetables: Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, such as leafy greens, broccoli, peppers, or cucumbers.
  • Healthy fats: Include 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fats

You should work with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian who can provide personalized guidance on portion sizes based on your specific needs and goals.

Additional Ways to Manage Your Diabetes

  • Regular physical activity
  • Monitor blood sugar levels
  • Medication adherence
  • Get enough sleep
  • Stay hydrated

Frequently Asked Questions

Can diet play a role in managing diabetes?

Following a healthy eating plan that includes balanced meals, portion control, monitoring carbohydrate intake, and choosing nutrient-dense foods can help regulate blood sugar levels.

Are there any complications associated with diabetes?

If diabetes is poorly managed, it could lead to various complications. These may include heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, foot problems, and increased risk of infections.

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About the Author

Inez Briand

Inez Briand is the partner of a type 1 diabetic (Ely). She has always been interested in traveling and cooking, and now that she has a partner with diabetes, her interest in cooking even more healthily has skyrocketed. She loves finding new recipes for her partner and family and sharing any food and nutrition-related articles on Diabetic & Me.

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