Q: I am diabetic and count my calories and carbohydrates. What are my best options when eating out?
A: Healthy dining finder is a great place to start. This resource can help those with diabetes plan ahead when eating out! Here you will find nutritional information for a wide variety of restaurants. You will find values for calories and carbohydrates (along with other nutrition information that may be pertinent to you, such as sodium and fat content) for all of our dietitian-recommended options. However, there may be times when nutrition information for restaurants you’re visiting is not available. Use these tips to help manage your diabetes when dining out:
Eat your usual portion size – Restaurants often give servings that are two, three, or even four times the recommended serving size. To keep from overdoing on the calories, carbohydrates, fat, or sodium, portion part of your meal to eat at the restaurant and ask that the rest be packaged to take home.
Include lean protein – Choose fish, beans, skinless chicken, turkey, or lean cuts of red meat (i.e., beef or pork loin, roast beef) for some satisfying protein without the extra fat.
Limit excess fat – Opt for baked, broiled, sautéed, or grilled items instead of fried foods; ask for sauces, gravies, and dressings on the side and use them sparingly; and ask for foods to be cooked with no added butter.
Be smart about carbohydrates – It’s easy to dig into the bread basket when seated, as well as to wrap-up a meal with a sweet treat; but choose your carbohydrates wisely to make sure your blood glucose levels remain normal. Choose whole grain starches (rolls, rice, pasta, etc.) when available and keep their portion sizes to a minimum. Load up on fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Ask for a small dish of fruit, sugar-free pudding or ice cream, or a small-portioned biscotti for dessert to minimize the added sugars.
For more tips on eating out with diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association website or schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian in your area.