Diabetes and Eating Out: 7 Tips to Enjoy Yourself
Being diabetic and having to decode a restaurant menu isn’t the easiest task. That’s why we’ve compiled these 7 tips to help you stay healthy and enjoy.
When diagnosed with a chronic illness like diabetes, many people might initially think of all of the things they must give up from their “pre-diabetes life.” Diabetes and eating out? How does it work, exactly?
As of 2012, 29.1 million Americans are living with diabetes. You are not alone!
One of life’s most simple, yet greatest pleasures, is eating out with your friends and family. While the thought of dining at a restaurant while you’re monitoring your blood sugar levels might seem like a daunting task, it is possible!
In fact, when you’re healthier and balanced, you might even be able to get cash for the extra test strips you won’t be needing if you follow these 7 tips to eat out as a diabetic and enjoy yourself!
It’s a win-win for your health, and your wallet.
Don’t Be Afraid To Be “Picky”
I know what you’re thinking: I don’t want to be “that guy” at the dinner table, always asking for my meal to be customized. But here is the deal, my friend. You are paying for the meal you’re about to eat and you should be able to enjoy it to its full extent.
If you spot a menu item that you cannot take your eyes off, it most likely will be fried. Fried foods tend to be the dieter’s Achilles Heel (diabetic or not). While delicious, fried foods contain extra breading that only account to a higher blood sugar. This is something you do not want.
Ask your server if the fried dish in question can be prepared in a healthier way, either boiled, baked, or grilled. This saving on calories, breading, and oil will allow for indulging on better options. Plus, you still may find that it’s a tasty option!
Avoid The Bread Basket
If you want to avoid using those test strips during the duration of your meal, you need to be mindful of your carbohydrates. The effects of extra weight and elevated glucose levels are detrimental to your health (especially as a person already struggling with diabetes).
A night out at a restaurant usually entails a heaping basket of bread, fresh out of the oven. In order to avoid the temptation, and save for a low-carb option during your meal, simply ask the server to not bring the basket to your table.
You see? It’s as simple as that. Bread that is out of sight, is out of mind. (At least, for those two hours.)
Hold Off On The Sauces
One of the best ways to keep control of your caloric and sugar intake is to ask for your meal “plain” as often as possible. Restaurants often like to smother perfectly healthy option with sauces, gravies, and dressings.
The problem with these toppings is that you have no idea of the serving size, calories or sugars on your dish. If you order your fish or chicken as plain as possible, you have the option to order a low-calorie dressing on the side.
You might find that heavy dressings are unnecessary, and you can opt to dress your meal better options such as vinegar, small amounts of olive oil, pepper, and lemon, to taste. Don’t you actually want to taste your meal?
This brings up to the next, very important tip in dining out as a diabetic….
Stock up On The Protein
It should go without saying that if you’re limiting your starches and carbohydrates during your night out, you should be focusing on the next best filling part of your meal: lean protein.
Protein is great, but “lean” is also a key word here. As a diabetic, excess fat is to be avoided, so your best choices while out should include grilled or baked fish, chicken, turkey, and lean cuts of beef.
Eating plentiful lean protein has been proven to reduce hunger and keep you full longer. It’s a great aide to help in weight loss as well.
Plan The Timing of Your Meal Ahead
As a person with diabetes, you most likely abide by a diabetic meal plan, particularly if you take oral medications to manage your glucose levels. While you have the options to switch up your intake, timing of your meals are important as someone who must monitor levels, especially with glucose test strips.
The best way for you to stay prepared is to choose a restaurant that accepts reservations, so you can anticipate when you will be actually eating. If this isn’t possible, another option would be going out to eat at less “peak hours” such as 6:00-8:00 p.m.
In that case, you would be able to be sitting much quicker. If you come across a very long wait, bring a snack, or opt to wait at the bar where you can possibly order a small dish to hold you over until your meal.
Keep Your Portions In Mind
Living with diabetes means being mindful of what you eat and HOW much you eat. Unfortunately eating a restaurant means that manageable portion sizes are thrown out the window, so it’s up to you to figure out a mode of action.
According to the National Institutes of Health, American restaurant portions have doubled or tripled over the last 20 years, and this is leading to obesity rates to increase. If a restaurant puts a massive dish in front of a hungry person, they are more likely to eat it all, and they get to sell more and charge more for a dish.
A good method to use as a diabetic eating out is to immediately ask that half of your portion (or whichever you decide), be packaged away before you even finish your meal.
Diabetes and Eating Out: Get Creative With The Menu!
Eating out as a diabetic does not have to be drag (as we’ve gone over here!). One thing we’d like to leave you with: when dining out, read the menu is a creative way. Make up dishes that work optimally for you and your health needs.
You can look at the sides menu and appetizers as options to mix and match for your entree. A side salad could be mixed with a dash of a fruit cup and a portion of baked chicken.
You can order plain black beans or steamed vegetables. The most important thing is to always ask, ask, ask. They should be able to accommodate to your dietary needs.
Now that you’re prepared to enjoy a night of eating out as a diabetic, make sure to stick to these rules and make those days on constant glucose testing in the past. As a healthier individual, you can get cash for test strips and find an even better way to make your diabetes manageable.
It’s all up to you, and it’s possible!