Diabetes: Dining Out
Your best eating plan if have diabetes is one that:
· Helps keep your blood sugar levels under control.
· Is low in saturated and trans fats and salt.
· Allows you to keep a healthy weight.
You need a meal plan made just for you. A dietitian or diabetes health educator can help with a meal plan. Your meal plan should consider the way you usually eat, your daily routine, and your diabetes medicines.
A meal plan is a guide for what you eat, when you eat, and how much you should eat to keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. It is based on:
· How many calories you should eat each day
· A balance of carbohydrates (starches, fruit, milk)
· The diabetic medicines you are taking
· Your activity level.
When you are away from home it is important to eat at the same times you do when you are home and to eat the same amounts and types of food.
HOW DO I STAY ON MY MEAL PLAN WHEN I’M DINING OUT?
Diabetes does not require special foods, so choosing foods from a restaurant’s menu can be easy. Many restaurants offer some foods that are lower in fat, cholesterol, and sodium (salt), and higher in fiber. Healthy food selections include salads, whole-grain breads, baked, grilled or broiled foods, steamed vegetables, sugar and salt substitutes, and diet drinks.
When you dine out:
· Pick a restaurant with many food choices.
· Ask your server for details about the menu items. Request lower calorie substitutions, even if they are not on the menu.
· Broth soups or salads as appetizers can curb your appetite. Try ordering a low-calorie appetizer and sharing the entrée, or take half of the entrée home.
· Eat the same amount of food as you would at home. If you usually eat 2 to 4 portions of carbohydrate foods with each meal at home, try to keep the same balance when you dine out. If you want more noodles, then have less bread. If you want a special dessert, order an entrée without a starch such as grilled fish with steamed vegetables. Substituting dessert carbs for starchy carbs allows you to splurge occasionally without going over your carbohydrate limit. This helps you control your blood sugar as well as your weight.
· Ask that the bread or chips not be placed on the table until the food is served. It is too easy to overeat these foods while waiting for the meal.
· Order baked, broiled, roasted, or grilled items.
· Ask that sauces be placed on the side and avoid sauces that are high in fat.
· Ask for low-calorie salad dressings or use vinegar with a small amount of oil and a splash of lemon.
· Ask for the high-fat food to be left off your plate or for it to be replaced with lower fat options.
· Order steamed vegetables or fresh fruit when available.
· Ask that eggs be prepared with a low-cholesterol egg product.
· Ask that items be prepared without extra butter and do not add butter at the table.
· Order fruit, or low-fat or fat-free yogurt, for dessert.
· Eat slowly.
· Follow your primary care provider’s recommendation about the use of alcohol.
Here are some terms from menus that usually indicate high-fat dishes:
· Au gratin
· Cheesy or cheese sauce
· Cream or cream sauce
IS IT OK TO EAT AT FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS?
Fast food restaurants are starting to offer smaller portions, more grilled chicken selections, meals with a choice of fruit and milk instead of fries and soda, and creative salads with bottled waters. Now it is possible to order healthy items on the run. Here are some tips for ordering healthier fast foods:
· Order the smaller portion sizes. Avoid menu items that include deluxe, super sized, or jumbo in their name.
· Pick low-fat or skim milk or water instead of a soft drink.
· Choose grilled chicken items more often.
· Ask for mustard and ketchup instead of mayonnaise, or order food plain and ask for condiment packets.
· Use salad dressing sparingly, or ask for the low-fat or fat-free varieties.
· Skip the croissants and biscuits–they are high in fat. Fat-free muffins are also rarely a good choice because they are usually high in sugar and calories.
· If you are taking the food home, order entrées only and prepare your own quick side dishes, served with milk, water, or other low-sugar drink.
WHERE CAN I FIND COMPLETE MENU AND NUTRITION INFORMATION?
Most large food chains publish nutrition analysis sheets that list all menu items, showing total calories, grams of carbohydrate, protein, and fat, and sometimes, food group portion sizes. These materials may not be on display at the restaurant. If not, ask the counter person or check for the information on the restaurant’s Web site.
Many traditional restaurant chains now have Web sites that provide menu and nutrition information. Here are Web sites for some of the popular fast-food restaurants. They all include menus, nutrient breakdowns, and easy-to-use calculators so you can see exactly what you are eating.
Search for your favorite eatery on-line.
Although restaurants are now offering healthier choices, most restaurant foods are still high in salt, especially fast foods. To keep a balance on days you dine out, make sure the meals you eat at home are low salt.
ARE THERE OTHER TIPS FOR WHEN I AM TRAVELING?
Having diabetes should not keep you from traveling. However, you do need to plan ahead. When traveling by plane, boat, or train, request diabetic meals a day or two before you leave. Travel agents can be helpful with this. Always keep a carry-on bag with you. The bag should have your diabetic medicines and supplies and also some snacks. If a meal is late, eat a snack from your bag. Snacks that travel well are fruit juice boxes or cans, some fresh fruits, dried fruit, cheese and cracker packs, peanut butter, and breakfast bars. Be sure to replace the snacks you eat so you never run out.
When you are changing time zones, talk to your primary care provider to find out what changes you need to make and when to take your medicine.
Canadian Diabetes Association: Eating Away From Home: https://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/diet-nutrition/eating-away-from-home