After a diagnosis of diabetes, you often need to make certain lifestyle changes to ensure you manage the condition and stay at your optimal health. One of the changes you often need to make is to your diet.
Going out to eat can feel more difficult when you have diabetes; however, with the right planning, you can continue to enjoy dining out while remaining healthy. Thomas Nguyen, MD, and our team at Nguyen Medical Group in Boynton Beach, Florida, share these tips to help you eat out successfully when you have diabetes.
How to eat out with diabetes
If you’re newly diagnosed with diabetes, planning a meal out while watching your blood sugar levels can feel overwhelming. To stay on track, follow these strategies.
Eat at your usual time
Eating at around the same time every day helps your blood sugar levels stay steady. If you can, plan your gathering by making a reservation at a restaurant at the same time you typically eat a meal.
If you need to eat at a later time than your usual meal, eat a healthy snack at your usual mealtime, and aim to eat a smaller portion than usual when at the restaurant.
Choose your food ahead of time
Being spontaneous is fun, but it can tempt you to order food that’s less healthy than you'd otherwise eat. Whenever possible, get a copy of the menu ahead of time, so you can be prepared with a healthy choice that fits your diet.
In many cases, you can also get the nutritional information from the restaurant in advance to make an even more informed choice.
Start your meal with water
As soon as you sit down at your table, ask your server for a glass of water. Drinking water before your meal reduces your appetite and helps you feel less tempted to overeat.
Watch food ingredients
When picking your meal, avoid meals with heavy levels of carbohydrates and unhealthy preparations. As a general rule, skip foods that have been fried, prepared in heavy cream, or barbecued. Look out for sides and extras like chips, croutons, bacon, and salad dressing.
Instead, order dishes that have foods that are grilled, broiled, or roasted. Healthy side dishes include vegetables, fruit, and salads with dressing on the side. Often, restaurants can make substitutions to your side dishes, or offer a healthier dressing on the side, even if it’s not listed on the menu.
Limit portion sizes
Smaller portions limit you to a healthy number of calories for the day. Restaurants often prepare main courses significantly larger than the number of calories the average person needs, so try putting half your meal in a to-go box before you start eating, sharing an entree, or ordering an appetizer as your main course.
Move after your meal
After you eat, movement helps you digest your food and stay alert. Go for a brief walk after supper if you’re able to, even if it’s just walking around the parking lot a couple of times before driving home.
By being prepared and knowing which restaurant meals are most accommodating to your diabetes, you can maintain your active social life and your health at the same time. For support in managing your diabetes, make an appointment with our team today.