You might have mastered dining in as a diabetic, but dining out is another realm. Where should you eat? What should you eat? Here are a few pointers to managing your diabetes even when you’re on the go.
Remember that when you eat out, you are not taking a break from your diet. Most Americans eat out two times a week, and sometimes more. Since you are likely to eat out with some frequency, don’t use eating out as a time to take a break from your diet.
Even if you are eating out, try to schedule your meals at roughly the same time as you normally eat. You want to keep your schedule fairly steady so that you can maintain a regular blood glucose level.
Most restaurants serve meals that are much larger than the average portion size. So, instead, try splitting your meal with your dining partner. Or simply divide your plate into two halves and eat one half and take the other half home. Don’t order food that is “all you can eat,” “jumbo,” or “grande.” Stick to the “junior” or “small” sizes. You might even try ordering a healthy appetizer for your dinner.
Get all of your sauces, dressings, and gravies served to you on the side. This way you can control how much you want to eat. Instead of pouring the dressing on your salad, try dipping your fork in the dressing, and then spearing the lettuce. Add your sauces a little at a time. Refrain from dipping your meal into the sauce, though: that will defeat the purpose of ordering the sauce on the side.
If you aren’t sure about the ingredients or preparation of an item on the menu, ask. Your server will tell you the information you need to know to make an informed and healthy choice.
Don’t be afraid to modify a meal selection to make it suit your dietary needs. Instead of having the fries, ask for a second vegetable side. Ask for your chicken to be grilled instead of fried. Most restaurants will be happy to accommodate you.
You can still eat fast food if you are a diabetic. It is easiest to know what you are going to order before you go to the counter or before you get to the drive through window. This stops you from making unhealthy impulse purchases.
Know that fast food meals can be up to and even above 1,000 calories. This means that if you choose to eat fast food, try to eat more vegetables at your other meals to help balance your diet.
Remember that simply choosing the chicken is not always the healthy answer. If the food is deep-fried, it is probably not healthy. Avoid breaded and fried foods, and instead choose for skinless, grilled options.
Every diabetic has different dietary needs. Some people need to have a low-calorie diet, and others are more concerned about limiting glucose intake. Make your decisions based on your dietary needs. If you need to limit your sodium intake, ask that your meal be prepared without adding salt. If you are watching your calorie count, order your grilled chicken sandwich without the mayonnaise: use mustard or barbecue sauce to add some kick, and fresh vegetables to add flavour too.
All restaurants offer sugar-substitutes on the table. You can also always order a diet pop, which will have a lower sugar content. You can also often get fat-free salad dressings and other healthy choices. Making intelligent choices at the restaurant begins with proper ordering, continues with intelligent substitutions, and ends with healthy portion control. Learning a little more about food will help your dining experience be as positive and healthy as possible. If you want to learn more about food, ask your dietitian to help explain the food options, or check out each restaurant’s nutritional information (often available online) to help you understand what you will be eating.
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