Learn more about eating out for diabetics from the American Diabetes Association.
A sizzling steak with buttery mashed potatoes, mouth-watering green beans and hot apple pie. Mmmm. Now that sounds like a good hearty meal.
Not so fast. If you have diabetes, you may need to rethink your menu choices. But don’t worry. You can still find appetizing restaurant foods that will fit in with your overall diabetes meal plan.
The key to healthy eating for diabetics is moderation. Follow the same portion size and food content rules that you would follow at home. You can keep track of what you eat and make healthy food choices while limiting portion sizes. Avoid the supersize, all-you-can-eat, jumbo, deluxe or value meals. Instead, opt for the regular or lunch-size menu choices. If there is still too much food on your plate, share with a dining partner or take the leftovers home to eat later.
It’s okay to substitute items with your meal. Instead of fries, you can ask for a side-salad with fat-free salad dressing or an order of vegetables. Switch mayonnaise or creamy sandwich sauces for mustard or ketchup. You also may request that sauces, dressings or gravy be served on the side of your plate so you can add only the amount you want to your meal.
Many restaurants feature heart-healthy items or list calorie and fat information on their menus. You also may notice foods that are identified as being lower in cholesterol, fat and sodium, and higher in fiber. When making menu selections, it is better to avoid fried or breaded items. Instead, order food that is broiled, roasted or grilled. Low-cholesterol eggs, whole-grain breads, skinless chicken and thin-crust vegetable pizza are other smart choices.
You will need to skip the double hamburgers and go easy on the cheese, but you can choose grilled or broiled sandwiches with lean roast beef, turkey or chicken breast. Salad bars are a good option too, but don’t load up on bacon bits, cheeses or croutons. You can end your meal with a tasty sugar-free, fat-free frozen yogurt or a fresh fruit cup.
If you are on a low-salt diet, remember to ask that no salt or MSG be added to your food.
Because high-calorie drinks are usually a no-no for diabetics, you may need to watch out for the continuously refilled soda glass. Instead, order water (regular, sparkling or mineral), diet soda or unsweetened ice tea. If your diabetes is controlled and your doctor allows it, you may have an occasional alcoholic drink. Options with fewer calories and carbohydrates include light beer, dry wines and mixed drinks made with diet soda or tonic, club soda or seltzer.
Diabetics who take diabetes pills or insulin shots need to watch the clock to make sure they eat on time. When possible, call ahead and make reservations. Plan your meal so you don’t have to wait too long for a table by avoiding times when the restaurant is very busy.
By making health food choices and limiting portion sizes while eating out, you can enjoy yourself and manage your diabetes at the same time.