Dining Out with Diabetes

Healthy eating can be a challenge for those with diabetes, and dining out means added pressure to make smart choices. Despite certain limitations, people with diabetes can still enjoy a night out at their favorite restaurant. It’s about knowing how to read between the menu’s lines and make small adjustments that add up to big benefits.

Plan Ahead

Researching the restaurant ahead of time will save you time and trouble down the road. Many restaurants post their nutrition information online, and knowing your options before you get there will make it easier for you to plan your meal. You should also try to stick to your normal eating schedule, so make a reservation to avoid waiting for a table later.

Think Small

Most restaurant portions are well above the recommended limit, especially if you have diabetes. Always opt for the smaller size of a dish if it’s available, and don’t hesitate to ask other guests to share a meal with you. Bring your own to-go container or request one from your server so you can pack half of the food away for later.

Make Substitutions

Opt for healthier alternatives than the menu dictates. Request your dish be broiled, grilled or roasted instead of fried. Swap french fries for a side salad, creamy condiments for low-fat varieties, and salsa for cheese. Some restaurants say they won’t do substitutions. If this is the case, call ahead of time and explain your situation. Most will be willing to work with your needs.

Subtract Add-Ons

Anyone with diabetes knows to keep an eye out for hidden ingredients. Just because bacon bits and croutons aren’t promoted on the menu doesn’t mean they won’t end up in your dish. Ask your server if the chef can cut out any unneeded extras that will only add more salt, sugar and fat to your dish.

Know Your Limits

It’s all about the basics. Choose foods rich in lean meats, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid high fat, high calorie dishes with little nutritional benefits. If your diet allows for alcohol, stick to light beer, dry wines and cocktails made from sugar-free mixers. If you don’t want to miss out on dessert, cut back on other carbohydrates during your meal. Have fun, indulge, but remember moderation is key.

What tips do you have for dining out with diabetes?

Photo courtesy of Flickr/gabriel amadeus

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