Dining Out with Diabetes
Food Portion Size
Many Diabetics feel overwhelmed when they first start dining out after being diagnosed with Diabetes. After all, dining out removes some of the control you have over what ingredients and options you have for your meals. However, learning the dining out ropes may seem intimidating at first, but once you have a handle on it, dining out can be a true pleasure – and a relief if you spend much of your time in the kitchen.
As a recently diagnosed Diabetic, you should keep in mind that the principles of good nutrition are still in effect. Therefore, just because the menu offers high sugar options doesn’t mean that you should compromise your nutrition standards for the restaurant. Even if the menu does not offer items that are particularly low in sugar, you can (and should) always request that the chef take special care with your meal. After all, your health is on the line! Many restaurants have special recipes for customers wishing to order low-sugar meals. Sometimes, all you need to do is ask.
What to do when dining out:
- Fried foods are tempting appetizers. However, most menus also offer fresh fruit, seafood or soup options. Select theseafood or soup.
- When ordering eggs at breakfast, avoid scrambled eggs or eggs that could be mixed with butter or cream. Instead, opt for a boiled or poached egg.
- Always ask for the dressing on the side. Many restaurants also offer sugar-free dressings in addition to traditional dressings.
- Choose whole-grain breads when ordering rolls, crackers and biscuits. If whole-grain breads are not an options, avoid eating breads made with refined flour.
- Select brown rice over white rice.
- Look for vegetables that come raw, steamed, stewed or boiled. Otherwise, make sure that the vegetables are not cooked with high-fat oils and butter.
- Select lean meats, such as meats ending in “loin” (tenderloin, sirloin). Always ask for the gravy or sauce on the side of the dish.
- For dessert, order fruit, yogurt or sugar-free ice cream. Though it may be tempting, unless there are other sugar-free desserts on the menu, stick with the item with the lowest sugar level.
- Never drink soda. Always opt for diet beverages, unsweetened tea or water.
- Eat small portions (like you may at home, and take a doggy bag.
- Even when dining out, remember that you may have a special eating schedule. Stick to it.
- Don’t forget to take your medication.
- Fat free doesn’t mean sugar-free. When in doubt, ask your waitress or chef for ingredients, or simply skip the item.
- Plan to take some of your food home, even before eating. That way, you will avoid over-eating.
- Approach buffets very carefully – start with a salad, take as much vegetables as you would like, avoid those croutons; tuck in the tomatoes; some sunflowers seeds, with no-fat or low-fat dressing and make that your first course. On the return trip, have more salad or follow the above guidelines for your entrée course.
For dessert, try the fruit. Remember some buffets, use canned fruit with sweetened juices, watch those; too much sugar. Fresh fruit is always best and they generically have those around the salad bar as well.
Dining out can often be a huge relief for families in which one person has Diabetes, but not everyone. When you dine out in such a situation, everyone can feel comfortable ordering foods that they enjoy and no one has to worry about cooking a low sugar meal in addition to a meal that the whole family will crave. Keep in mind that by remembering your nutrition basics, you can eat a large, very healthy meal without having to feel guilty. Bon Apetit. Enjoy.
Click for more Healthy Eating Guidelines.