Most people enjoy eating a nice dinner out at a restaurant from time to time. Allowing someone else to do the cooking for you once in a while is one of life’s simplest pleasures. However, if you have diabetes, having another person prepare your meals can easily throw you off the diabetes meal plan set by your doctor.
However, it’s still entirely possible to enjoy eating out with diabetes and stick to your meal plan. It simply takes a little advance planning and knowledge to keep you maintaining a healthy diet.
Sticking to Your Diabetes Meal Plan When Dining Out
Before you head out to dinner, do a little research before even making your plans. Many restaurants these days have nutrition information available on their website, so before you even leave the house check their site and figure out some healthier options to choose from. The type of restaurant you choose is important, too. Try to avoid “all you can eat” buffet types of places, as you may end up tempted to overeat.
Here are a few other quick guidelines to eating out with diabetes:
- Read the menu carefully. If you can’t view the menu online in advance, make sure you read it through thoroughly once at the restaurant. Some menus note what items are a healthier option.
- Ask the server questions. If the menu doesn’t spell things out, don’t be shy about asking your services questions about the food. Ask the server how foods are prepared; for example, do they contain added butter or salt?
- Make special requests. Don’t be afraid to ask to substitute steamed vegetables, a side salad or fresh fruit for French fries or mashed potatoes. You can also request that the portions are measured out to your specific needs and that sauces or salad dressings be served on the side.
- Watch the carbs. It can be tempting to fill up on bread while waiting for your meal to get served, and while carbs are a necessary part of your diet, you need to make sure you’re choosing high-quality carbs like whole grains to keep your blood sugar level in the target range.
- Avoid those “extras”. Save on calories by watching the extras like croutons, cheeses and savory sauces and gravy. Make smart substitutions, like mustard for mayo or vinegar and oil for salad dressing.
- Maintain portion control. A good idea is to ask for a take-home box to be served with your meal, that way you can automatically portion out the right amount and save the rest for later. Portion sizes at many restaurants these days are huge, and are usually plenty for two meals!
- Drink wisely. Sodas and juices can be full of sugar and add hundreds of calories to your meal. Stick with water with lemon or unsweetened iced tea, or even diet soda. If you’d like to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, have just one and choose a drink that has less carbs, like light beer or dry wines.
- Make smart choices. Yes, fried food is delicious, but it’s also very high in fat and calories! Choose grilled, broiled, roasted, steamed or baked options instead.
- Timing is everything. Eating at the same time every day is an important part of your diabetes meal plan. Try to make reservations so you can be sure you’ll be eating at the correct time of day; or avoid busier hours so you won’t have to wait long to be seated.
Enjoy eating out with diabetes all you want! As long as you’re following your meal plan guidelines, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a nice dinner in a restaurant as often as you’d like.