How to Eat at Restaurants on a Diabetes Diet
It's a well-known fact that restaurant meals, as a category, are some of the most unhealthy meals that any of us will ever consume. For the average diner, navigating the menu and selecting healthy options from the sea of unhealthy choices is nearly impossible, unless you have an extensive knowledge of nutrition.
For those who must also consider the effect of a given meal on their blood sugar due to diabetes, eating out at restaurants often becomes more of a chore than an enjoyable experience. Dr. Cederquist has developed the following recommendations below to help simplify the dining out experience for diabetics.
Know Your Needs Before You Arrive
Often, the biggest source of stress for diabetics when eating at restaurants is the overwhelm that occurs when they are confronted with the reality of a long list of menu options, many of which they may never have had at that particular establishment. Knowing the exact nutrition you need in order to properly decide on an entree is the first step in overcoming the overwhelm, and this knowledge should come directly from your doctor. Ask for the specifics on what nutrients you should be eating fro breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the amounts of each that you should shoot for.
According to Dr. Cederquist, "People who have been diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes should follow the recommendations of their doctor when choosing to eat out. Individual nutritional needs vary from person to person, and that is why consulting with you doctor is crucial." When diabetics know mow many grams of protein, fat, carbohydrates and fiber you need to consume at a given meal, eating at restaurants becomes much easier. Simply ask your server for a list of the nutritional information for each meal you are considering, and you're done! You now have the power to choose an entree that suits your needs, as well as your tastes.
General Diabetes-Friendly Guidelines for Eating Out
Here are some general guidelines and tips from Dr. Cederquist that diabetics can follow when selecting entrees from a restaurant menu:
- Choose meals that include protein as the main ingredient.
- Be mindful of the carbohydrate content of the meals you are considering.
- Visually match the carbohydrate serving to the amount you would prepare at home.
- Don't be afraid to make substitutions for healthier, more diabetic-friendly options.
Proteins take a longer amount of time for our bodies to break down, and thus provide a consistent release of glucose into our blood as they are digested. In contrast, carbohydrates are broken down much faster by our bodies, which can lead to dangerous fluctuations in blood glucose levels. By matching the main carb sources in your meal to the portions you would normally prepare and consume at home, you can further control your intake if the entree is served with a larger portion than you originally expected.
Eating out at restaurants does not have to be a daunting challenge for those with diabetes. Knowing your nutritional needs, and using the tips above can greatly reduce confusion and anxiety, and allow you to enjoy your meal, and company, on an entirely new level.