Healthy Tips for Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

Yes, you can enjoy hot dogs and hamburgers on your diabetic diet. Just follow a few tips and tricks, and start enjoying these barbecue favorites guilt-free.

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Social Staples

During warm-weather months, your social calendar is likely to be sprinkled with cookouts, visits to street fairs, and pool parties where the grill is a-sizzle. And the main course, of course, is hot dogs, sausages, or hamburgers.

"Nothing tastes better than a hot dog downed during an inning of baseball or a brat at the Polish polka festival," says Patti Urbanski, M.Ed., R.D., CDE, a dietitian and diabetes educator at the Duluth Family Practice Center in Minnesota who also has type 1 diabetes. Fortunately, you can relish these rituals without ruining your diabetes meal plan.

Where's the Beef?

Hamburger meat, by government standards, is fresh or frozen ground beef without anything else added and can contain no more than 30 percent fat by weight. At the supermarket, hamburger meat is labeled with its percentage of lean meat and percentage of fat, such as 80/20 or 93/7. Not so at a friend's barbecue or a ballpark grill. Here are some good rules of thumb:

  • A 3-ounce serving of cooked meat is just right -- there's no need to pile on extra patties or order a large burger unless you share.

  • Get your hamburger cooked how you like it (as long as the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F for safety) because the fat content doesn't differ much based on doneness.

  • Spread condiments gingerly, but feel free to use a generous amount of this low-calorie flavor enhancer: mustard.

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