Following your diabetic diet guidelines doesn’t mean you have to give up eating at your favorite restaurants with friends and family. Learn how to choose healthy diabetic meals from a restaurant menu, and get helpful tips for eating out with diabetes.
Plan Your Diabetic Meals
A little research can help you find healthy diabetic meals when eating out with diabetes. Many restaurants now provide nutritional information online, including a complete restaurant menu. If you can’t find a meal that meets your diabetic diet guidelines, many restaurants are happy to prepare meals to accommodate special diets. Call ahead to make sure.
When you dine out, bring the following diabetic supplies to protect you from unexpected spikes and dips in blood sugar:
- Blood sugar monitor
- Diabetic identification bracelet
- Insulin (or other medications)
Eating at Regular Mealtimes
In addition to following diabetic diet guidelines, eating at regular mealtimes can also help you control your blood sugar levels. When eating out with diabetes, remember these tips:
- Diabetic meals may take longer to prepare. Ask your server if your meal choice involves a long wait, and if so, consider ordering something else.
- Make reservations to avoid having to wait.
- Plan to eat as close to your normal eating time as possible.
If all else fails, eat a small snack so you don’t get ravenously hungry and risk low blood sugar.
Wise Restaurant Menu Choices
Many items on a restaurant menu may be high in calories, fat and/or sodium. A dish’s description can give you clues that will make it easier to follow your diabetic diet guidelines. Healthy choices are often described as:
When eating out with diabetes, avoid foods described as breaded, crispy or fried.
Restaurant menu options with heavy, creamy sauces, such as Alfredo, should also be avoided.
Ask About Diabetic Meals
Certain items on a restaurant menu may sometimes be mysterious, even to the savviest diner. If you don’t know what’s in a particular dish, it’s OK to ask. The following requests may also help you stick to your diabetic diet guidelines:
- Ask for sauces and dressings on the side.
- Ask that no butter or salt be added to your food.
- Make substitutions like a salad instead of fries, or whole grain bread instead of white bread.
- Request that your dish not be breaded or fried.
Diabetic Meals and Portion Sizes
When eating out with diabetes, try to stick to the portion sizes recommended in your diabetic diet guidelines; items on a restaurant menu are often unrealistically huge. Sticking to your diet may require bringing leftovers home or sharing with a friend. If you’re accustomed to your diabetic diet guidelines, eyeballing portion sizes will come naturally to you. If you’re new at this, or just unsure, you can always ask.
Discovery Communications. (2010). Eating out if you have diabetes. Retrieved June 5, 2010, from http://health.discovery.com/centers/diabetes/ada/eating-out.html.
OptumHealth. (2010). Can dining out with diabetes be a piece of cake? Retrieved June 5, 2010, from http://www.myoptumhealth.com/portal/Information/item/Dining Out Tips for People With Diabetes?archiveChannel=Home/Article