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Eating Out with Diabetes

With some careful planning, eating out can also fit into your healthy lifestyle. Here are a few tips, and links to others, that you can use as your guide the next time you eat out.


Read the menu ahead of time. Many restaurants post their menus on their websites. Read through the menu to see what might work for your meal planning.

Have a small snack before. There's nothing worse than arriving at a restaurant feeling famished. Have a small snack before, like 10 nuts or some yogurt to curb your appetite.

Send back the bread basket. Save your carbohydrate choices for your main dish.

Start with soup or salad. Beginning the meal with a clear soup, a salad with dressing on the side, or grilled veggies with hummus will fill you up a little, preventing over-eating when it comes to the main course.

Ask for it on the side. If you're ordering a salad or a meat dish that comes with a sauce, order the dressing or sauce on the side. That way you can add the amount that's right for you.

Choose baked, broiled, poached or steamed. Typically, foods that are cooked in this way are lower in fat. Avoid any food which is deep-fried or breaded.

Share your meal or ask for half to go. Especially in restaurants that have large portion sizes, ask your server to bring you half of your main course and ask for the other half in a doggie bag, this will keep you from overeating. As an extra precaution, ask your server to keep the other half in the kitchen until you're ready to leave.

Buffets are a challenge. Studies show eating at buffets results in eating three times the amount of food. Be careful... fill your plate with many vegetables.

Alcohol limits. The Canadian Diabetes Association Guidelines state that you should get permission from your doctor before you drink. If you do get permission, women can have 1 standard drink per day, men can have 2 standard drinks per day, and if taking insulin, food must be eaten with alcohol. Standard drinks would include: 12 oz. of beer, 5 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of hard alcohol or 3 oz. of sherry or port. Take alcohol with food. The CDA has also created this excellent tool on alcohol and diabetes.

Share a dessert. Order one dessert and share it.

To know more, read the book Guide to Healthy Restaurant Eating, 3rd edition by Hope Warshaw. The information is useful for everyone, with or without diabetes.