Diabetes nutrition — Make restaurant meals a healthy part of your diabetes meal plan.
For some people, eating out is an occasional indulgence. For others, it's a way of life. Either way, moderate portions and careful choices can help you make restaurant meals part of your overall plan for diabetes nutrition.
Many restaurants include information about the nutrition values of their entrees at the restaurant itself or on their websites. Take advantage of this resource when it's available, and research food or meal options at those establishments to help you make healthy choices.
Large portions are common at many restaurants — but diabetes nutrition is often based on moderate portions. To control your portions:
Consider avoiding "all you can eat" buffets. It can be difficult to resist overeating with that many options. And even a small amount of many different foods can add up to a large number of calories.
Don't settle for what comes with your sandwich or meal. For example:
Keep in mind that extras, such as bacon bits, croutons and fried chips, can sabotage diabetes nutrition goals by quickly increasing a meal's calorie and carbohydrate count.
Even healthier additions — including fat-free salad dressing, barbecue sauce and fat-free mayonnaise — have calories. But you can enjoy small servings of these without adjusting your meal plan. Ask for them on the side to further control how much of them you eat.
Food preparation is also something to consider. Avoid breaded and fried food. Instead request that your food be:
Ask if the chef can use:
If you're ordering pizza, request a thin crust and lots of vegetables. Avoid doubling up on cheese or meat. If you're on a low-salt meal plan, ask that no salt or MSG be added to your food.
Don't feel like you're stepping out of line if you request healthier options or substitutions. You're simply doing what it takes to stay committed to your meal plan.
Avoid high-calorie drinks
Beware of the continuously refilled soda glass. Sugar-sweetened soda can add hundreds of calories to your meal. Shakes and ice-cream drinks often have even more calories, as well as saturated fat. Instead, order diet soda, water, unsweetened iced tea, sparkling water or mineral water.
When alcohol can worsen your diabetes
Alcohol has its own caveats. If your diabetes is under control and your doctor agrees, an occasional alcoholic drink with a meal is fine. But alcohol adds empty calories to your meal. It can also aggravate diabetes complications, such as nerve damage and eye disease.
If you decide to drink alcohol
If you choose to drink alcohol, choose options with fewer calories and carbohydrates such as:
Limit alcohol to no more than two drinks a day if you're a man and one drink a day if you're a woman.
Eating at the same time every day can help you maintain steady blood sugar levels — especially if you take diabetes pills or insulin shots. If you're eating out with others, follow these tips:
When you have diabetes, dessert isn't necessarily off-limits. Sweets count as carbohydrates in your meal plan. If you'd like dessert, compensate by reducing the amount of other carbohydrates — such as bread, tortillas, rice, milk or potatoes — in your meal.
Whether you're eating at home or eating out, remember the principles of diabetes nutrition. Eat a variety of healthy foods. Limit the amount of fat and salt in your diet. Keep portion sizes in check. And above all, follow the nutrition guidelines established by your doctor or registered dietitian. Working together, you can feed your joy of eating out without jeopardizing your meal plan.
By: Mayo Clinic Staff