8 Ways to Make Diabetic-Friendly Menu Choices

  • Eating smart doesn’t mean eating worse.
    Dining out when you have diabetes doesn’t have to be a lesson in self-control. It just takes a bit of planning and creativity. Perhaps you’re watching your calories. Or maybe you’re more concerned with sugar intake or getting more fiber in your diet. Whatever your nutritional goals, there are some simple ways you can enjoy eating out and still stick to the plan you’ve set forth with your doctor.

  • 1. Go big and wide.
    Choose a restaurant that has an extensive menu with a wide selection of dishes, and you’re bound to find a few that work for your diet. It may turn out to be your go-to restaurant where you don’t have to order the exact same meal every time. And many chains have menus and nutritional information available online, so you can plan ahead and avoid the long decision-making process at the table.

  • 2. Avoid the buffet.
    The buffet choice on a menu is a red flag for diabetics because it’s all too easy to overdo it with the plethora of options, many of which can be fatty and fried. If you do choose the buffet, try to stick to mostly salad and vegetable dishes. Grab a roll or a broiled piece of fish or poultry to get your carb or protein fix and round out the meal.

  • 3. Make a meal out of sides.
    Sometimes a meal of side items can be easier to work into your meal plan—and equally as satisfying. Be careful, though: even the healthiest vegetables can quickly become troublemakers when doused in cream or sodium-laden sauces. In general, look for non-starchy vegetables, such as a salad or steamed broccoli, and whole-grain choices.

  • 4. Go topless.
    If you’re watching your calories or carbohydrates, you don’t have to skip the burger; just skip the bun or some of the rich toppings, like cheese or sauce. Turkey, chicken and fish are good sandwich or burger options — with less fat and calories than beef or ham — but they can be laden with both if breaded or fried. If you want to keep to the burger and the bun concept, compromise with a grilled piece of chicken or fish in between.

  • 5. Decide if it’s really worth it.
    When choosing from a menu packed with all your favorite dishes, it can be tempting to indulge (just this once!). Of course you want to order the foods you really like, but if they aren’t on your prescribed meal plan, decide where else you can cut back. Perhaps you can do without the sauce (or ask for it on the side), or skip the bread and butter before your meal arrives to cut back on carbs and fat.

  • 6. Consider alternatives to alcohol.
    Many people with diabetes need to limit alcohol, typically to one drink per day. Some good alternatives include non-alcoholic beer or tonic water with a splash of lime (even a jolt of caffeine, with a cappuccino or espresso, can do the trick for some). And certain drinks on the menu can often be made virgin by request, especially some of the more interesting cocktails with a variety of ingredients. Just try to avoid those with a lot of sugar and calories, like margaritas or daiquiris. Ask your server for suggestions.

  • 7. Indulge with a little dessert.
    Dessert can often be the toughest part of the meal to resist, especially at a restaurant. But you may be able to indulge every once in a while by keeping it small and healthy. Ask about options that are particularly fruit-heavy (like a small bowl of ice cream with extra fruit on top), or split a favorite dessert among two (or, even better, three or four).

  • 8. Don’t be afraid to ask.
    When browsing the menu, if you’re unclear about how an item is prepared or what’s in it, ask your server. And don’t be afraid to ask for special accommodations, such as to leave out a fat-laden ingredient, like bacon, or for a different side item. Most restaurants allow for substitutions, such as a side salad or vegetable in lieu of fries. And restaurant insiders know that when you customize your menu order you know it will be freshly prepared.  Bon appetit!

8 Ways to Make Diabetic-Friendly Menu Choices
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Last Review Date: 2019 Oct 16
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