It’s often easier to manage your diet if you have type 2 diabetes if you prepare your own food or eat at home. This doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying opportunities to dine out with family members and friends. In fact, by keeping the right strategies in mind, you can stick to your diabetes diet and still benefit from some quality time at a favorite restaurant, diner, deli, or neighborhood haunt.
Before you dine out, take a moment to think about what you plan to have. Many restaurants and local eateries provide their menus online. Some of them even include calorie counts and other dietary stats. Planning ahead may also involve:
- Calling ahead to discuss possible menu substitutions
- Avoiding certain restaurants where you know the food won’t be in line with your diet – e.g., fast food places, ice cream shops, etc.
- Letting others you plan to go with know about your dietary limitations so they can help steer you away from foods you “want” that aren’t right for you health-wise
Use the Plate Method
For times when you don’t want to worry about strict calorie counting and dietary stats, try the plate method. What you do is envision your plate and choose appropriate foods to fill it up as you order from the menu. A healthy plate is made up of foods that include:
- Lean proteins: Options include skinless chicken breast, white-fleshed fish, lean beef, bean dishes, and pork loins.
- Vegetables: Green, leafy veggies are especially loaded with beneficial nutrients that can be good for type 2 diabetics.
- Low-fat dairy: Other than milk, your dairy possibilities include hard cheeses like mozzarella and pudding made with milk.
- Starches: Wholemeal, granary, and brown bread, potatoes, and rices and grains are all examples of healthy starches that can round out your meal.
Once your food arrives on an actual plate check to see that portions break down in a way that’s balanced; in other words, your plate should be about half full of veggies and the other half should be quarter mixes of lean proteins, starches, and a low-fat dairy option. Fruit can be included as well. If you have extras, simply ask for a doggy-bag.
A Few More Tips
Foods you shouldn’t be eating can easily creep up on you when dining out. As a general rule, increase your odds of enjoying a meal that’s still in line with your diabetic restrictions by:
- Skipping bread baskets
- Starting with a light salad, when possible, to avoid making decisions based on hunger alone
- Opting for vegetable soup over cream soup
- Avoiding anything that’s fried
You may also be a bit hesitant to dine out if you feel well-meaning friends may suggest splurging “just this once.” But if you are polite but firm, you can still have a great time dining out without worrying about unexpected blood sugar spikes and other unpleasant side effects associated with overindulging.