Diabetes doesn't have to keep you from dining out: Helpful tips to managing your diabetes
Jan 30, 2012, 8:20 a.m.
For as much positive association as there is with dining out, it's also got a negative rap from proponents of healthy eating and effective diabetes management who'll tell you that the only way to eat healthy is to eat at home. But the truth is, there's no reason your diabetes should prevent you from having a meal at a restaurant with friends, family, or co-workers. You've just got to follow a few important steps when you do.
Time your meals. This isn't all too easy to do when you're dining out on a whim, so it's important that any time you do have dinner at a restaurant you plan around your schedule of insulin shots or pills. If you don't want to be kept waiting for a table, call ahead to make a reservation. Many restaurants that don't typically take reservations will do so if you explain to them that you're diabetic and that you need to time your meal within a certain window. It's also important to ask if preparing special diabetic meals will take the restaurant extra time; if so, you might want to order ahead or make plans to arrive early.
Be a pest. Diabetes management requires that you sometimes brave being a little inconvenient for the sake of your health. What this means it that unless you're dining at a restaurant that offers a specific diabetic menu, you should ask questions about how food is prepared and the ingredients that are used. Don't be afraid to ask for substitutions or to make special requests for the preparation of your food. Ask for sauces and salad dressing on the side instead of mixed in so that you can control how much you intake, and ask for foods to be prepared without salt if you're on a low-salt plan.
Plan way ahead. If you're the person who gets to choose the restaurant, great. But things rarely work out this way, therefore you may need to do your research ahead of time to ensure things go as smoothly as possible come dinner. Remember, the trick is to be able to enjoy the company of friends and family and not worry that the food you're eating is going to throw off your diabetes management. Find out where you'll be eating and see if you can find the restaurant's menu online. This will give you a better opportunity to know what to order before you get there, so you don't end up having to hold up dinner to ask 101 questions. Calling ahead if you can't find the answer to your questions on the restaurant website is also strongly recommended.
Root out the fat. Educating yourself on where fat hides is critical. Otherwise, you could order what you think is a perfectly healthy meal but what is actually the most fat-laden dish in the entire restaurant. Here's a quick rundown on some of the most common hiding places of harmful fats: butter; sour cream; cheese; bacon; deep-fried foods; breaded foods; oily foods; creamy foods.
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