Can diabetics eat pizza?

This is one of those yes and no questions, as it depends on the pizza in question. Pizza can be many things. On the one hand, it can be a thick, cheese-filled dough topped with a thick layer of gooey cheese along with loads of fatty, salty meats like pepperoni and sausage. On the other, pizza can be a thin whole wheat crust, topped with fresh tomatoes, a sprinkle of reduced fat cheese and loaded with veggies. Clearly, the type of pizza we're talking about is significant.

In addition, how much to eat and how often to eat come into play. Consuming half of a large pizza (or more) would be extremely high in carbs, fat, and calories -- and is not recommended. However, eating a slice or two of pizza could more easily fit into a healthy eating plan. Also consider how often to eat pizza -- a few times a week is probably too much.

Diabetes and pizza: What to do if you're a pizza fanatic?

1. Limit pizza intake and portion size. Consider trying to allow yourself pizza once or twice a month, and when you do enjoy it, try to limit your portion to one or two slices.

2. Choose healthier pizza options. Try rounding out the meal with a veggie-filled salad and some fruit. Choose thin crusts over thick or pan pizzas, and if your pizzeria offers whole wheat, give it a try. Ask them to go light on the cheese, skip the meats, and opt instead for fruits and veggies such as tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, pineapple, onions or peppers -- or any combination thereof.

3. Make your own pizza. You could also make your own pizza so you have more control over the toppings. You can make dough, buy dough or buy a pre-made crust. Use reduced fat cheese. You can make a quick pizza sauce by sauteing a bit of garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, adding a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, sprinkling of basil and oregano and finally simmering it, covered, for 30 minutes. Then lay on your toppings -- I find the veggies are better if they're steamed or sauteed first.

NOTE: Remember, the body's reaction to foods such as pizza varies from person to person. Depending how your blood glucose responds to pizza, you may need to adjust portion sizes accordingly. If you have concerns or questions about including pizza in your diet, be sure to bring them up with your physician.

If you get a new prescription, ask your pharmacist or physician about potential interactions with food and other medications.  If potential interactions exist, you may need to remove that item from your diet.

About Heidi McIndoo

Heidi McIndoo, MS is a registered dietitian who has been counseling women, men, and children about healthy eating for twenty years. She firmly believes food should be enjoyed and all foods can fit into a healthy diet -- it's just a matter of how much and how often.

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